There is a common theme in horror movies in which the main characters ignore advice that turns out to be vital to their survival. Micah and Katie are warned by a psychic in the beginning of the film that whatever force they are living with feeds and grows off of negative energy. All they must do to keep the being at bay is to ignore it and remain content with each other. Bringing a camera into the mix doesn't help either of those things.
The movie incorporates a steady buildup, but is well worth its time for the lasting scare it provides. Having been made to look like uncovered footage, there are no musical cues or ominous tonalities. In avoiding most of the common horror mainstays, Paranormal Activity denies cheap scares and uses another method: to frighten the audience members by disturbing them at an ethereal level. Fear is induced through subtle, unnatural oddities rather than the more common "jump" moments in today's thrillers. Because of this unique method, the film will affect many of its viewers differently.
Believers in actual demons, ghosts, ghouls and such may want to shy away in respect of the supernatural nature of the plot. While many people have reported having nightmares (if they were able to sleep at all) after seeing this movie, more fantastical claims of actual hauntings have also been made. Steven Spielberg is even said to have returned a home copy to the studio in a garbage bag after believing it to have permeated ghosts into his home.
Oren Peli has created a very inspired work from his own paranormal experiences, and the genuineness shows itself off in his writing and direction. The expected screams and ramblings of most characters in these types of situation are replaced with tears and arguments over responsibility for the events. Peli writes the characters into an inescapable situation, but it is their arrogance and pride that ultimately worsen it. Both of the main actors (who use their real names in the film) do a great job of emoting their fright without exaggerating it, lending visceral honesty to their reactions.
Even though a good amount of information surrounding the phenomenal situation in the film is revealed by the end, there is just enough mystery left keep it strange and terrifying. Those intent on getting sleep after seeing Paranormal Activity have been warned.
Actual Rating: PG-13 While anybody who happens to be afraid of supernatural forces is probably too young (at any age) to see this movie; there is no actual adult material in it beyond "foul" language.
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