By: Austin Takahashi
All bets are off, and the verdict is in. I have seen Paranormal Activity. If you have read my recent posts about this film, you can tell that I was obsessively excited on watching this overly-hyped horror film that has attracted more controversy than the time-wasting suckiness of Transformers.
Yes, I do hate it. And no, I’m not the only one.
Recently, I have only seen posts and read texts about this film declaring its awfulness and boredom, but here is a review that comes from a guy who actually experienced it in a place where it was made to be seen- a movie house. Do I really need to explain again, “Why in a movie house?”
My friends and I were sitting in the third row. We were the ones closest to the screen in that entire audience. Some of ‘em suggested that we should all sit on the balcony. I refused. We debated. After I threatened to kill them with my bare feet, they gave in. I mean, come on- sitting on the balcony, which is about a hundred feet away from the screen, kinda defeats the purpose of “the big screen”, right?
Paranormal Activity is not about a haunted house. It is about a haunted girl. Wherever she goes, lives, sleeps, brushes her hair- the thing is watching her. Kinda like having a murderous stalker who just bought an Invisible Cloak on EBay. Ah, but this time, her man-child boyfriend is living with her, and he offers his help by buying a camera and tries to record anything that spells, “Boo!”
Now, one must understand the film’s elements and background before I continue. Paranormal Activity had a production budget of over 187 million dollars. Those reading this who actually took the time to research the movie can stop planning to sue for false information because I was just kidding. They only had $11,000 dollars to make this film. With that said, any movie-maker would scratch their head if someone asks you to make a commercial horror flick with cash that gets lost under Oprah’s couch.
Quick thought here: you can give the makers of the Twilight movies 10 billion dollars and a sample script, and the only thing that would change is that the cause of global bankruptcy would shift from economical to “cinematical”.
Then there’s the cast- just four characters, two of which were only extras. People I heard complain about this said that it was boring. The horror-loving generation of today’s youth has been brainwashed by the post-modern horror tradition. Today, a horror movie is composed of a group of dumb teenagers. These kinds of films keep the audience from yawning by violently killing off the characters one by one every 10 minutes until the movie ends.
In Paranormal Activity, we see only a couple and their conflict with something that they cannot escape from. To appreciate this, the viewer must have the ability to empathize with the characters. Thing is, some people refuse to pay attention, and they end up confusing suspense for boredom. Yes, the first half is slower than Paquaio’s English skills, but if the viewer keeps his mouth shut, his ears keen, and his eyes sharp, then he will see how creative and effective this film really is.
With just a house as the entire setting of the film, I was greatly impressed on how this film was able to provide scares without being redundant and desperate. The bedroom where the couple sleeps in automatically becomes one of the most infamous rooms in the last decade (second to The Bathroom in Saw).
And now we talk about the most important element: the villain. Now this is where the “It’s so simple, it’s genius!” thought comes to mind. We can’t actually see the villain, but we can see its effects (via wind, shadow, footsteps, etc). You literally feel it breathing on your face, and you know you can’t stop it and you know it won’t leave you.
Seeing a floating card with a magician next to it is cool and not scary. Witnessing a floating card in the middle of nowhere is scary as hell (don’t even deny it). That’s fear ladies and gentlemen, and Paranormal Activity was able to take that concept of fear, load it in a shotgun, and shoot it full force at the characters and the audience. If I was in the position of the characters, losing my mind would be the best case scenario.
The question of “Did it scare me?” was bound to be answered in this review sooner or later, so here it goes. The answer is YES. I felt fear inside of me. It’s not the kind of fear that will make you look away, curl up, or hold someone else’s hand. It’s the kind of fear that will freeze you up and keep you that way until the scene is over.
Before I end, I must make myself clear that my rating is not just based on how high Paranormal Activity was on the scare-o-meter. This is also zero-budgeted filmmaking at its best.
I have seen lots of horror films, believe me. Paranormal Activity deserves to be called a great fright film. To those who couldn’t wait and decided to watch this on a laptop or TV, I say “I feel sorry for you”. To those who watched this in a movie house and didn’t like it, I ask “Why?” I hope I gave enough reasons why I liked this film. If you have any questions and/or complaints, the comment box waves “Hi”.