Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ten Statements About....PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007)

Experience The Terror...of STANDING!
1) Let's get it out of the way: No, this is not the scariest film ever made...it's interesting in its way, and has its moments, but scariest ever? No.

2) I give mad props to director/writer Oren Peli for standing his grounds and not allowing it to be remade by Paramount. The effectiveness of the film would have been hurt by some name actor and actress playing Katie and Micah....and speaking of Katie...

3) I love that Katie Featherston is a heavyset woman, yet is portrayed as being sexy and desirable--and that Micah finds her so. This emphasizes her 'veracity' as a real person more than using the actress' real name for her character does.

4) There are some nice, smart touches in the script that defuse certain problems--the best arguably being how Peli makes it clear that it's not the house that's anchoring this entity, but Katie herself. Thus, even when I thought 'Why don't they just leave?,' I realized immediately why that would be pointless.

5) It's refreshing that Peli never gives in to the 'shaky-cam' to re-inforce veracity--in fact, a simple title card makes it clear why there is no shakey-cam while also explaining some of the filmmaker-ly editing tricks in the movie.

6) Micah is a jerk. He consistently ignores his girlfriend's wishes at every turn, treats this situation as a territorial fight, and seems to think of this situation Katie's been going through since the age of eight as a game. Thus, when he meets his ultimate fate, my reaction was 'serves you right, jackass.'

7) There is no reason for the psychic to show up the second time, and that appearance only reinforces the actor's limited ability. Likewise, why bring up that Dr. Avery fella if he never plays any role in the film?

8) The biggest flaw with this film is how all the entropic elements are fairly pedestrian, and are all telegraphed the same way. The moment we hear that noise that sounds like an air conditioner being turned on, it's a sure thing there's another 'spooky' scare coming.

9) Okay, the cursor on the Ouija Board was kind of neat, if predictable...and it leads to one of the cooler character moments for Micah in the film. But to have it spontaneously combust as well?

10) This film is really built more to be seen with a full audience, where you can feed off the energy of your fellow filmgoers. Watching it in a near-empty auditorium blunted the impact of some of the better scares.

In short...I can see the potential in Peli, and this is better than some of the faux-Blair Witch flicks--Lord knows it kicks Quarantine's ass, especially when it springs an almost identical 'dragged away' gag on us. But its reputation has written out a check the film's quality cannot cash. See it with a bunch of strangers you could love.

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