Another ghost film? Yes, another ghost film. I’m sorry.
Paranormal Activity is a 2007 found-footage supernatural film that didn’t receive a wide-release in the United States until 2009. In the opening credits, Universal Studios tries to sell you on all the footage shown being real and sent in by Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, who are the protagonists of the film.
Obviously, the footage isn’t real but it is convincing if you didn’t know anything about this movie coming into it.
Impressively, this film was made with only $15,000. Post-production was more expensive at $215,000. As you watch the film, it makes sense as to why costs were small. The movie is shot in one house and the footage comes from a regular camcorder. The most expensive equipment used would be the tripod and all the audio devices Micah uses throughout the film. While I can appreciate some of Micah’s deep research into doing all of these things for Katie, he comes off very unlikable and your caring of him goes away rapidly.
Now, we should be invested in Micah because he’s the one that should be a victim here. Katie has had this ghostly activity follow her all through her life and she didn’t tell Micah about the situation until they moved in together. However, Micah keeps pushing the experiments further and further, which aggravates the haunting and putting their lives at more risk. By the time the movie ends, you don’t really feel bad for his situation and it’s very poor writing for a character.
The story is also told conventionally and it’s incredibly stale. This film is just talking during the day and hauntings at night. Sure, the activity picks up as each night goes on but we get the same shot of the bedroom time after time and during the day, it’s just Micah reviewing footage and arguing with Katie. It’s almost boring at points, which is inexcusable because this movie only runs at 86 minutes.
I enjoyed the sound design, but that should be the emphasis in most supernatural films since you want to hear the unexplained bangs, footsteps and voices. There are some really good scares, don’t get me wrong, but I think the praise this movie gets comes from a time where the found-footage style was still in infancy. Before this, it was only The Blair Witch Project and The Poughkeepsie Tapes.
For 2020, Paranormal Activity has aged like milk left out of the refrigerator. Outside of a few quality scares, there’s not much going for the film. I hate saying that but there’s greater expectations for films in this subgenre of horror. Why watch Paranormal Activity when I can watch Ghost Adventures or Ghost Hunters? It’s the same thing.
There are better supernatural films out there and while memorable for its time, Paranormal Activity just hasn’t aged well for the present and as the years go by, it will lose any of the luster audiences had for it when it originally came out.
19 down, 12 to go.