Review: The country is buzzing with “Paranormal Activity”by Cherlyn Gardner Strong on Sep. 25, 2009, under Ghosts and Hauntings, Life, Paranormal Films
Last night’s advance screening of “Paranormal Activity” at El Con Cinema was horrifically fun. The screening was in advance of tonight’s midnight showing at El Con. The opportunity for me to attend the advance screening was made possible by txtMovieClub.
This film is unusual in many ways. The movie has released in stages via much hyped advance screenings in 13 cities across the country. Tonight, midnight showings will take place in those same 13 towns. These limited releases are intended to create a buzz for cities to ”Demand It” in a national competition via the movie’s website. The winning town will enjoy the “major” film release. The film was first shown in 2007 at the Screamfest Horror Film Festival. That same year, DreamWorks Studios took an interest in the film. At the time, Steven Spielberg took a DVD copy of the movie home, but returned it to the Studios in a trash bag after experiencing some paranormal activity of his own. A bedroom door in his home became inexplicably locked from the inside, requiring the aid of a locksmith to unlock it.
The ending of the film last night was not the original ending offered in the 2007 film festival. Knowing both endings, I personally think I would have preferred the 2007 version. I am wondering whether the major film release could present yet another alternate ending, to prevent spoilers. Maybe, maybe not. I can tell you that last night’s ending was pretty scary, even if it wasn’t my preferred choice.
The film depicts a segment of the lives of a normal, but fictional, San Diego couple who are experiencing paranormal phenomena. The actors share their first names with their characters Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston), who have been together for three years. The movie begins with Micah shooting footage of the tormented Katie. We learn in these opening shots that Micah purchased the camera to document the paranormal activity which has followed Katie since she was 8 years old. Everything the audience sees is the “footage” captured by Micah. Yes, it is reminiscent of “The Blair Witch Project” in this respect. However, “Paranormal Activity” is a much better film.
The film’s promotional poster promises nightmares – which I did not have. It also “guarantees” that the film will “leave an imprint on your psyche”…It did that for me for about 2 hours. It did have me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I was entirely impressed by the comedy incorporated into the film alongside the terrifying moments. The realistic interaction and frequent banter between Micah and Katie was highly entertaining. You may be left with questions about the decision making skills of Micah and Katie. However, that’s what horror flicks are all about. The film builds up to a climax, much like the manner in which the movie studio is releasing the film to the public. If you have been waiting for a non-gory film that surprises and scares, this is it.
Catch it tonight at El Con’s CineMark Theater. The replaying of Micah’s “footage” will commence promptly at 12:01 am. Get there early, though.
The film is Rated R for language with a run time of 1 hour and 36 minutes.