|Paranormal Activity Reviewed|
Alex Gomez - PVNN
January 15, 2010
Through the ether it came to me that this was a must-see movie, one of the scariest ever. I chose to review it because none of the movies that I actually wanted to review are available yet: Sherlock Holmes, The Lovely Bones, Dorian Gray.
When I realized it was to be one of those single hand held camera affairs, I inwardly groaned. I had avoided seeing The Blair Witch Project for this reason, and also because the entire world raved about it. Therefore, I should have known better, and I can't blame anyone but myself. Fortunately, I didn't have to pay to see this movie, which I can say in all honesty was a complete waste of time. Julie/Julia was more frightening. The Puerto Vallarta police scare me more.
Roger Ebert had this to say about it:
"It illustrates one of my favorite points, that silence and waiting can be more entertaining than frantic fast-cutting and berserk f/x. For extended periods here, nothing at all is happening, and believe me, you won't be bored."
Ha! Clearly Roger is too old to be reviewing movies now; either that, or he is in the pay of the studios. I was bored nearly to death! And I, who love being scared by good films, like the Changeling and An American Haunting, neither of which were frantically fast-cutting or had berserk f/x, hated the waiting; all that waiting for something frightening to happen, besides shadows in the night, doors opening and closing by themselves, and strange noises, which ultimately led to NOTHING!
Well, not nothing. The woman 'star' of the film, Kate, whom we are supposed to believe has been followed by 'ghosts' since she was a little girl and saw a strange 'mass' in the bedroom she shared with her sister, finally breaks down after spending seven days in her new house with her stockbroking boyfriend Micah and ends up murdering him.
Did I care? NO, I did not, because Micah was a selfish idiot of a man, who flouted the paranormal researching professor's warning at the beginning of the film that negative energy would draw out whatever entity lived in their new luxurious suburban house by challenging this 'entity' to come out and confront him. I consider fear to be a negative energy too, and Kate was very, very afraid, especially after Micah finds a half-burnt photo of her in the attic. She freaks when her inconsiderate boyfriend breaks his promise not to bring a Ouija board into their home. He justifies this act by saying he didn't buy it, he borrowed it.
You don't see Kate killing him near the end of the movie, but when she returns to her bedroom with the front of her nightshirt covered in blood and a cleaver in her hand, it is clear that she did, because she was POSSESSED (the director is asking us to believe that possession by demons is possible? Even after Aldous Huxley's ground breaking book that discredited possession once and for all, The Devils of Loudon?) and manipulated by the 'entity.'
Afterwards, her friend, with whom Kate spends time doing bead work (this was scary), comes to the house, only to wind up being murdered, one can only presume by the 'entity' itself. Then the police arrive, two of them, and make their way up the stairs to the bedroom. A terrified and ostensibly innocent Kate goes to meet them, still clutching the cleaver in her hand, and one of the officers shoots her dead. Shoddy police work, since one would expect them to merely incapacitate her by shooting her in the arm or leg.
In the end, I can only agree with Australian reviewer Jim Shcembri that:
"[Paranormal Activity] demonstrates that when filmgoers decide they want to be scared, they will forgive absolutely anything - bad acting, cheesy dialogue, poor camera work, bad editing, unconvincing effects, incoherent storytelling - for the sake of a good scare."
The film makes an attempt at a poignant ending by showing a photo of the happy couple Kate and Micah, which are really the names of the two actors, if one can call them that.
I'll end this review with what is really the most frightening thing about Paranormal Activity: a sequel is in the works.
Alex Gomez is an award-winning writer, who'd die if he couldn't write. To date, he has written numerous short stories, hundreds of articles and two serious novels.
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