Paranormal Activity (2007)

paranormal activity poster 2007 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 6/10

Good jumps

No real story, bad ending

Movie Info

Movie Name: Paranormal Activity

Studio: Blumhouse Productions

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): October 14, 2007 (Screamfest Film Festival)/September 25, 2009 (Theaters)

MPAA Rating: R

paranormal activity destroyed photo katie featherston micah sloat

Yes, evil malicious spirit…we all feel the same way about Micah. Go get him!

Katie (Katie Featherstone) and Micah (Micah Sloat) have noticed strange things happening around the home, and Micah has bought a camera to document it all against Katie’s wishes.  When a supernatural expert visits the home, Dr. Fredrichs (Mark Fredrichs) tells Micah and Katie that he suspects it is a demon tied to Katie’s past.  As the demon grows stronger, Katie and Micah find they are running out of options.

Directed by Oren Peli, Paranormal Activity is a found footage horror thriller.  It premiered at the Screamfest Film Festival in 2007 but didn’t make it to theaters until September 2009 after an online push from people.  The film became a surprise blockbuster and started a franchise.

Paranormal Activity is very low-budget.  The movie was made in ten days in Oren Peli’s own home.  He shot it was handheld cameras and hired no-name actors to play the main characters to give it an authentic feel like The Blair Witch Project.  The movie was going to be reshot with real actors but the studio decided to use the original film for the release.  It basically preys on the basic fears like things that go bump in the night, but it only succeeds part of the time.

paranormal activity sleepwalking katie featherston micah sloat

Are you just going to stand there watching me or kill me?

Paranormal Activity does a lot right and a lot wrong.  It is scary at points, but it is easy to scare when you throw something at camera.  Watching it and comparing it to better quality horror films, it reminds you that a story needs more than jumps to make it a good movie.  If the tension is building to a jump and the jump is just a door opening, that is pretty weak.  Eventually a payout is expected and it doesn’t feel like the final scene is a payout enough for the tension built.  An alternate ending has Katie killing Micah and then killing herself.  It isn’t much better (Stephen Spielberg actually suggested the ending change).

The acting is pretty bad.  By the end of the movie, you want Micah to get killed.  The movie wasn’t very scripted and mostly relied on the actors adlibbing lines around a basic plot.  Micah’s adlibs mostly revolve around him saying “Is that all you got?” over and over again.  I especially like when the demon shows it is seriously pissed off, that he tells Katie that he’ll handle it and challenges the demon to face him…like he’s going to get a fistfight with the demon on the front lawn.  None of the characters act like real people in the situation and found-footage horror films need to feel like they are inhabited by real people.

paranormal activity katie featherston alternate ending suicide

Well..this could make a sequel tough

The movie also looks very cheap.  The goal is to have a very normal, modern looking house (like in Poltergeist) instead of the classic haunted house.  It succeeds in that aspect.  With no visible monster, uninspired acting, and jump scares that require extreme patients, the movie could do better in building fear.

Paranormal Activity has the same problems that all “found footage” films have.  First, it doesn’t make sense half the time that the character have the camera and keep rolling and second it makes for a horrible ending.  The endings of these movies are always abrupt because of the format.  Paranormal Activity is no different and doesn’t escape the traps that the previous films fell into.  It is interesting to see how the story builds on itself from movie to movie.  Paranormal Activity was followed by Paranormal Activity 2 in 2010.

Related Links:

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Paranormal Activity:  The Marked Ones (2014)

Paranormal Activity:  The Ghost Dimension (2015)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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