After experiencing what they think are a series of "break-ins", a family sets up security cameras around their home, only to realize that the events unfolding before them are more sinister than they seem.
After a young, middle class couple moves into a suburban 'starter' tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially when they sleep. Or try to.Written by
Filmed for USD$15,000 and grossed USD$9.1 million in its first week in the US, breaking the record of highest-grossing weekend ever for a movie playing at less than 200 theaters. See more »
Katie's hair changes color from deep brunette to light brown & back again as the film progresses. See more »
Is that what I think it is?
Depends on what you think it is.
I think it's a big-ass camera! Whatever happened to one of those little hand held cameras?
See more »
Epilogue text reads: "Micah's body was discovered by police on October 11, 2006. Katie's whereabouts remain unknown." See more »
The version that was released in theaters is the cut supervised by Steven Spielberg. The Director's Cut, comprised of the unedited film with three possible endings, has several differences:
1. There is a scene in the Theatrical Cut not present in the Director's Cut that takes place early on, where Katie and Micah wake up and find her keys thrown from the kitchen counter to the floor.
2. The low frequency tone that occurs when the demon is present is not quite as loud in the Director's cut. There is only one instance of the demon whispering in the Theatrical Cut; there are at least three in the Director's Cut, all of which are heard in the bedroom at night.
3. A lot of the demon noises - the loud growl followed by the bang, the footsteps, even the shadows that appear on the bedroom doors - were completely re-dubbed and retouched. All of these scenes are much, much louder/noticeable in theaters for jump scares. There seem to be at least two added "shadow" effects - another on the bedroom door, and a silhouette in the hallway - in the Director's Cut, whereas the Theatrical Cut only has one shadow used.
4. The night when the demon plays the door games with Katie and Micah (opening and slamming it shut, knocking furiously) has been re-dubbed, as well. The knocking is much faster and louder in the Theatrical Cut.
5. There's some added dialogue between Katie and Micah where they discuss how the stress is negatively affecting their lives. She says she's failing her university course and won't pass unless she "does something drastic" on her midterm. He says he lost a large sum of money playing the stock market earlier, and that he'll be taking a break for awhile.
6. The demon's daytime attack is completely absent. The only time we get a good look at the picture that is smashed and clawed is when the two run up and down the hallway during the night to get away from the demon.
7. There's an extra video attached to the "Goodbye Dianne" explanation at the computer. There is at least two minutes of added footage of the woman's ordeal, which has been heavily used in the TV commercials. Micah shows Katie footage of Dianne's demonic possession and subsequent exorcism as she is tied to a bed. Her appearance transforms from healthy to disheveled and dark, with large cuts on her face and body. Eventually, the footage shows that the exorcism was unsuccessful, and the possessed Dianne becomes so destructive that she chews her own arm off to the elbow.
8. The double-layered voice Katie projects in bed when she says, "Everything will be fine from now on" (and later screaming downstairs) uses a different effect to achieve this. Unlike the Theatrical Cut, the two voices are very distinct.
9. The ending is completely changed. Katie awakes shortly after midnight on the final night, gets out of bed and stares at Micah for roughly three hours. Unlike the Theatrical Cut, she does not move to his side of the bed to continue watching him, and the sheets do not fly off of his body. Instead, she goes straight downstairs. After Micah is awakened by the scream, he runs downstairs and we hear the ensuing scuffle. Like before, Katie slowly climbs the stairs, except the footstep effect is slightly altered and when she enters the room, she is holding a knife and covered in blood. Micah's body is not thrown at the camera; he remains downstairs. Katie sits down on the floor against the bed and proceeds to rock back and forth, knife in hand, for several days. We hear her ignore phone calls and the door bell. Eventually, one of her friends comes in to check on her and finds Micah's body, which momentarily interrupts Katie's rocking. The friend lets out a scream and runs out of the house. Twenty minutes later, we hear the police knock and enter, warning anyone in the house to "make themselves known" because they have their weapons drawn. As they search the first floor, it appears as if the demon has left Katie's body: we see the light to the attic turn on, then off, as if the demon went back into hiding. The police come upstairs, find Katie and warn her to drop the weapon. She's dazed, running toward them yelling, "Where's Micah!? Where's Micah?!". The door to the attic slams shut, startling the police so much that one accidentally shoots Katie dead. The final sixty seconds of the film shows the confused policemen, asking "Where did that [noise] come from?" and ultimately declaring the house "clear". The film fades to black, and a text appears that dedicates the film to Katie and Micah.
A couple decide to document their nights while they sleep, after they hear strange noises that they believe to be a haunting.
I respect this film, for the fact that it was shot for less than 20,000, had absolutely no marketing campaign and has become a huge success based on word of mouth and the audience demanding to see it. If only other studios would follow suit and listen to people demanding to see movies they want to see, maybe there wouldn't be so much crap out there.
Paranormal Activity is shot like Cloverfield, Blair Witch Project, REC, Cannibal Holocaust, etc. If any of those films gave you motion sickness, you might want to skip this one. Half the film is shot while they sleep, so the film is on a tri-pod, the other half is them walking around with it. So if you've never been a fan of those films, skip this one. Second, the film is not as scary as people make it out to be. Instead, it is one creepy and suspenseful film, that seeing in a theatre, only heightened my enjoyment of it.
The audience I went with, all had a collective "Oh My God". I could hear it every time something creepy happened. You could literally feel everyone in the theatre holding their breath every time they went to sleep. Again, if you are the type of person who wants to watch a film and not hear a peep out of anyone else, skip this film.
Now the film itself, shot in one week, small (very small) budget and every penny of it went towards the special effects. The special effects are what sell the film, if you don't buy them, the film will not creep you out. They looked real and impressive enough to push the film into a successful goal, which is to scare people. If you are already afraid of the dark, this film will not help you. Every creek, thump, noise you hear in your house will now have you thinking twice.
Less is more, The Blair Witch Project uses this, as does Paranormal Activity. The two leads, are haunted by a demon, one we never see, only hear. Whenever you go into a horror film, as a kid you would close your eyes in fear. Big mistake, because it's the ears you need to be covering. The sound is what makes you jump, hear nothing, fear nothing. The sound design behind this film is what is scary people, accompanied by the visuals (memorable scenes with the powder and bed sheets).
As the film progresses, the haunting gets worse. I don't want to give anything away, and I urge you to not watch the trailer. I watched the trailer and was waiting for those things to happen, it took away from the general fear. Not knowing what to expect will make this film that much better, that much creepier and that much more entertaining. I didn't expect it to be as funny as it was either, the lead male had some comic relief dialogue, the ease the tension.
The couple are believable, the hand held camera angle works here and the fear will set in. I applaud Paranormal Activity, for not only becoming an unheard of success, but for being one of the creepiest films I've ever seen.
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