Too old to fear that bump in the night? With a subtly ingenious horror style and realism marking both characters and atmosphere, Paranormal Activity will make brave souls everywhere eat those words if they aren't too busy shrieking to chew.
The movie is a simple affair: couple Micah and Katie are experiencing strange - possibly paranormal - phenomena late at night in their new home. Hoping to document the occurrences, Micah begins videotaping the whole shebang. Through his camera's eye, audiences bear witness to the entire haunting, from its almost innocuous beginning to its psyche-scarring, nightmare-inducing finale.
Made with a budget that couldn't afford a year at Geneseo, Paranormal Activity has no gory glitz and glam to its name. What it lacks in red corn syrup and liquid latex, however, it makes up for in pure psychological skill. This movie claws at our most primordial fears: fear of the dark, the unknown and our own vulnerability.
There is an art to creating an atmosphere, and too often film directors forget that the anticipation of horror, not necessarily the horror itself, is what sets pulses racing. Paranormal Activity not only remembers this, but also perfects it.
The slow, heavy assent of unnatural footsteps and a sudden noise from a shadowy corner are enough to paralyze most anyone with terrified tension. Yet these little images of horror are only fodder for our imaginations. After all, nothing is more frightening than what we create within our own minds, and as audiences are left staring at a dark room, listening to the bloodcurdling screams crescendo from off-screen, our own horrified thoughts are all we have.
The simple genius of home-movie-style cinematography will have audiences immersed in the lives of Micah and Katie, who are portrayed so realistically they could easily be our friends or even ourselves. When the shocking ending sneaks up a quick 86 minutes later, even die-hard horror fans will jump.
Heck, everyone will jump, and the only thing more fun than being scared is being scared with other people, making it essential that you see this in a theater surrounded by the screams and nervous commentary of fellow moviegoers.
Paranormal Activity brings us back to our horror movie roots, when mood and characterization took precedence over setting off moviegoers' gag reflexes. From the acting to the staging to the script, this movie is excellence: a cult classic in the making.