Starring: Micah Sloat, Kate Featherson, Mark Fredrichs, Amber Armstrong, and Ashley Palmer.
Directed by: Oren Peli.
“Paranormal Activity” is the latest addition to the continuous assembly line of handheld documentary-like filmmaking in Hollywood. In 1999, a couple of guys gave us a tale of three student filmmakers lost in a forest haunted by a witch in “The Blair Witch Project”, filmed for $30,000. In much recent bigger budget cases, J.J. Abrams brought us a much more effective version of Godzilla in 2008’s “Cloverfield” while two genius directors from Spain spawned a demonic possession virus that infects an apartment building in 2007’s “[Rec]”.
And now we have “Paranormal Activity”, an effective supernatural thriller filmed for only $10,000 (not bad, huh?) by Oren Peli in his very own home. “Paranormal Activity” depicts a couple who are trying to deal with an uninvited and unseen guest in their home, one that has many tricks up its sleeve and is far from friendly in every sense of the word. “Paranormal Activity” manages to document the couple’s experiences with this freakish ghostly entity night after night as apparitions and strange occurrences escalate worse and worse.
What starts with footsteps and doors that open and close eventually continues with shadowy figures, sleepwalking, demonic possession, and even getting pulled out of bed and dragged out of the room. I’d have to say that this entity perhaps far more effective than what we have seen in any of the “Poltergeist” films which come off as special effects porn compared to this gem of a supernatural film.
The cast is extremely small, consisting of the two main characters Micah and Katie whom have the most screen time while smaller roles go to a paranormal doctor and a next door neighbor. Micah is a day trader and is a thrill seeker by nature which explains his intense curiosity to capture whatever this thing is in the act on film despite Katie’s warnings, who claims to have been followed by ‘strange occurrences’ all her life since she was a kid. Prepare yourself for an ending that befriends the one in “[Rec]” and (just like that film) totally makes up for everything “The Blair Witch Project” did wrong in the end.
Not only is “Paranormal Activity” a magnificent supernatural horror film and a one of the most superbly done in the handheld filmmaking genre, it is a milestone in independent filmmaking altogether. Oren Peli has set the record and opened the door for other directors with no experience and no film school credentials to claim the torch and make the next blockbuster $10,000 (or even less!) film to come.