Review: ‘Paranormal Activity’ makes going to sleep a nightmare

October 18th, 2009 at 10:16 pm by under Entertainment

I have said this before, I am not a fan of horror movies… but I do like horror movies that are well done… and this one is well done.  “Paranormal Activity” passes my test: does it give me chills just thinking about it – the answer here is an emphatic YES.   Horror movies are meant to scare the audience, so this also passes my second horror movie test: is it hokey, corny, or so bad that I am not scared by it – and the answer is no.  “Paranormal Activity” seeps into your memory… and doesn’t let go.

This is probably obvious since its scary enough to give adults nightmares, but I would not recommend taking kids to this movie.

A viral marketing push got Paramount to release the small budget “Paranormal Activity” to theaters nationwide after some very good early screenings.

"Paranormal Activity" poster courtesy Paramount (My spoiler-free review)

“Paranormal Activity” is chilling and unnerving, it makes going to sleep a nightmare.

Set in the very real believable world of one couple’s home, this movie succeeds with an increasing level of scare, offset by frequent moments of comedic relief that break up the rising tension created by the paranormal events going on in the house and the growing uneasiness in the couple’s relationship.

There are only really four characters in this movie, the guy Micah (pronounced mee-kah) and his girlfriend Katie, a psychic (Mark Fredrichs), and Katie’s friend.  Ohh, and don’t forget the character that is haunting their home… a very well developed character… one of the more menacing evils of the horror movies I’ve seen given the lack of real screentime.

Micah and Katie give very real, very convincing performances, which is important because the more this movie feels real, the more terrifying it is that it could be happening… much like “The Blair Witch Project” (1999)… but this movie is better than that because of its setting, completely limited to the couple’s home.

Much of the fright is implied, its driven by what you don’t see… just hearing the paranormal and seeing the results of it… until, as the movie moves along, we see more and more… but not too much.

“Paranormal Activity” is really good… it gave me chills in the theater and is giving me chills again just thinking about it… like other great horror movies (“The Ring” (2002), “The Exorcist” (1973), “The Shining” (1980), “The Grudge” (2004), “Saw” (2004)) at the top of my scariest movies list, which I will now have to update.   The realism of this movie makes it very cathartic… with the audience going through the paranormal activity along with Micah and Katie from the perspective of the camera…. and not just watching it, or putting yourself in their shoes like other scary movies.

THE BOTTOM LINE: this movie is very original with one small exception near the end, which is one of three small problems that keep me from rating this movie even higher… I give it 8.5 out of 10.   At at the risk of spoiling the movie, I will explain my issues in a way that only those who have seen it will understand: the photo, the alarm system, and the evil movements at the end… the last being the one thing that makes it less original because we’ve seen it before in two of the movies I mentioned above. 

"Paranormal Activity" courtesy Paramount Pictures “Paranormal Activity”

(2009) (rated: R for language)
(1 hr, 26 min)

Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs, Amber Armstrong, Randy McDowell, Ashley Palmer, Tim Piper

Director: Oren Peli

Genre: Horror/Mystery/Thriller

The Plot: After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence. 

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!


“Paranormal Activity” poster courtesy Paramount



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6 Responses to “Review: ‘Paranormal Activity’ makes going to sleep a nightmare”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Another movie that is coming out that offers a clean alternative is ‘’Paranormal.’’ Below is some additional information about this new thriller!!

    Paranormal, the latest supernatural thriller from Cross Shadow Productions, (the
    creators of the approved, best-selling BMG releases: Pray and Pray 2:
    The Woods) will be available in stores nationwide January 26th 2010. The 2009 Mrs. America is starring in it.

    See more information and trailers at:

    Following the success of family-friendly suspense/thriller The Exorcism of Emily
    Rose (Sony Pictures), comes a riveting supernatural thriller in the vein of the hit
    SyFy television series, Ghost Hunters and Frank Peretti’s House (Roadside
    Attractions / Lionsgate).

    Paranormal follows best-selling, self-made novelist Greg Evans struggling through the worst case of writer’s block in his award-winning career. In a desperate search for
    inspiration, Greg quickly finds himself immersed in a world he is not prepared to face.
    Turning to a group of paranormal investigators, Greg and the ghost hunting team search for proof and answers, yet are unaware they are about to have an experience of a
    lifetime! None will leave the way they came. Paranormal will peel back the supernatural curtain to reveal how The TRUTH will EXPOSE the darkness!

  2. Bill says:

    I saw it, and it looked to me like just what it was. I great attempt by some folks to make a thriller with a home video camera. I’m not the horror/suspense flick type (Breakdown was the last movie that got me into it enough to put me in “suspense”), so I’m not surprised it didn’t do much for me, but my daughter, who wanted to see it wasn’t thrilled either. If I was viewing it as if some friends of mine put it together, I might have a different perspective than I did from a movie that “millions have demanded”. There were others in the theatre that were though, and that was fun.

  3. jack mcgarry says:

    for me, no scare factor, no suspense and no surprises. i would not tell my friends to see this film. a good idea/concept, but poor use of that idea in my opinion.

  4. Maria Labarre says:

    I thought the movie had a good concept but I expected a bit more. Some of the things in the movie just made me wonder how they did things like, how did they make it look so real when she was getting dragged out of bed, what did they use to make the bite mark on her back look so real, etc. BUT, at the end of the movie I was slightly disapointed. I went to bed shortly after the movie and as I lay there alone in the dark and thinking of the movie, I couldn’t help but get spooked and wondering what actually happends to a person when they are asleep. I am a HUGE horror movie fan and after seeing this movie I’d give it a 5 out of 10.

  5. keishagwyneth says:

    oh my goodness! i was so scared!I think it was really a true story what happen but it’s not.The couple was so helpless!congratulations u do a good job!

  6. oh my goodness! i was so scared at night when i saw it this movie.The couple was so helpless.Congratulations you’ve done a good job to the viewers.

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