Paranormal Activity (2007)
Paranormal was a smash hit that was first created and shown at fests throughout 2007 but only got it's theatrical release in 2009. Oren Peli both wrote and directed this film which is nothing short of a breakout success with how much attention and money he has made off of it with such an amazingly low production budget. Love it or hate it you have to give Oren credit for being able to create a film that has outdone almost everything out there on the ratio for the profit margin - it honestly wasn't a bad film either.
While it's a movie that suffers from being unable to sit through multiple viewings (at least anywhere near each other), being horribly spoiled by audiences knowing what to expect going into it, and many other things that come from a low budget movie's big screen success - it was still a great film. When I sat down for my first screening of the film it actually wasn't prior to a theatrical release and I'm glad I didn't have to watch it as a screener copy though possibly at a convention would have been cool. As I sat down you could feel a buzz going through the audience as it was a showing for all horror fans (about a month before a wide release was announced.) The entire crowd had heard amazing things about it and this was before the marketing machine had crept in and managed to dull the feeling of the film many have missed out on.
The entire film consists of 8 characters even though the majority only focuses on the couple Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat.) I love how the majority of the cast has the characters retain the same name as the actors who play them. It’s setup to show the couple as being completely realistic and also sets Katie up as having a chance at being a real scream queen if a few casting agents take notice as she really is able to belt it out. As I was saying the couple’s interactions for the most part are completely realistic (though Micah’s insistence at about the half way mark of the movie to still figure it all out on his own get’s a bit tiresome.) People who don’t believe in ghosts aren’t going to believe that a person can be haunted and try to poke at it to come up with a rational answer which is exactly what Micah does. Katie who knows she is haunted just wants to leave it be as provoking it always makes it worse.
The movie has a very slow build up which can hurt it with audiences who have no patience in their movies though the buildup brings up quite a few mind blowing moments of suspense for those who do like a slow start. They are able to capture exactly what makes our cast so afraid of going to bed at night. It’s an amazing achievement to be able to get a crowd react so much to purely suspense and not scares in a film and something that is mainly a lost art in Hollywood. Too many people enjoy instant payoffs so the slow buildup has been overlooked for years – Paranormal Activity shows that this is still a valid art form in the realm of making horror.