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
Paramount acquired the U.S. rights for $350,000. The film went on to make $193 million worldwide, making this the second most profitable film ever made based on a return of investment. First most profitable is The Blair Witch Project (1999) which cost $22,000 and made $240.5 million. See more »
The security system is set every night, yet Katie goes outside and sits on the swing without setting off the alarm. 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?
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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.
First of all I must say, living in Belgium, I have the benefit of not being caught up in the hype machine. I'm sure if I were living in the States, I too would be numb to the affects of this film.
I would imagine being in a crowded cinema would take away from the intimacy of the scares. I watched this alone on my couch in the comforts of my own home cinema. I am a huge horror fan, not just a gore hound, though I do enjoy some good gore f/x from time to time, but most of all I love a good scare...which is rather hard to come by. Films that have scared me are, The Changeling, The Innocents, The Ring, Inside (A L'Interior), The Brood, Blair Witch... I'm not easily scared, but given the circumstances in which I watched PARANORMAL ACTIVITY I was quite tense.
This film is a lot like Blair Witch, Cloverfield in the use of the home camera, but the way in which the characters in PARANORMAL approach their situation is rather realistic and believable. The characters are like normal people, not Hollywood types. The acting is fine and the characters are fun and likable. The only thing I had a problem with (as far as believability) was the exorcism footage they looked at on the net.
Maybe I would have been disappointed if I had driven half an hour to the closest English language cinema to see this film when it comes out in December. I love going to the cinema for the great image and sound quality. I wouldn't want to watch AVATAR for the first time at home. But PARANORMAL ACTIVITY is the film to watch at home with as few people and distractions as possible. It's not groundbreaking or amazing, but it works and it's good. I applaud the filmmakers for sending some chills down my spine. Thanks.
Lower those expectations and enjoy the ride.
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