Paranormal Activity

Horror movies as a genre is not as prolific as say, romantic comedies or action movies – and most of them seem to be tied to the possessed-child or the zombie/undead phenomena. Only once in a while does a Ring or a Blair Witch Project break the clutter – and manages to scare the daylight out of most people. Paranormal Activity is another such breakout movie which succeeds in scaring - because psychologically, your home is your refuge against everything ‘out there’. But what if something is inside your home ?

Paranormal Activity works because it does not indulge in gore or visuals – it thrives on sounds and suggestions – and forces our imagination to work on what is haunting Katie and her boyfriend Micah. It is spookier because most of the movie is a handycam style visual record of several days and nights in the life of the young couple as they are disturbed by someone – or something. Most of the events happen in their bedroom at night, when both are asleep – and you cannot help but remember the bedroom scene (atleast once) when you are about to sleep on your own bed.

The movie begins with Micah setting up a night-vision camera in the bedroom to try and capture ‘paranormal activity’ that has been following Katie around since her childhood. Micah is quite excited by the prospect of capturing something on camera while Katie is indifferent – in a way all girlfriends are when boyfriends get very excited about their latest gizmo. (Micah carries around the camera in daytime as well – so all the footage that we see is mostly first person. Although his zeal for recording everything on camera does seem a bit excessive at times, you can to overlook it as a farcical reason to shoot everything from the same camera.)

I have to check myself from revealing more of the story as I don’t want to deprive you of the joy – or horror - of watching this movie. The director Oren Peli starts with a very slow pace – with scenes of domestic bliss and happiness, and then things get progressively creepy. By interval time, you are quite intrigued by the story. Though scares are almost non-existent till then – unless you are a little fainthearted, and loud thud noises are enough to scare you. In the second half however, a couple of times wifey almost broke my finger …

I didn’t quite get scared till the very end of the movie – but it does have several thrilling moments en route. Good horror movies are hard to come by and this one is highly recommended simply because it succeeds in carrying the idea over to your own home.

PS – The entire movie was shot in just a week in the director Oren Peli’s own home in San Diego, where he continues to live today. There was no cameraman in the crew as the lead actor does most of the shooting himself. The total production expense was just $15,000 and the lead actors were paid $500 only. Last counting, it had grossed over $100 million in collections, leading to the tag of ‘the most profitable movie ever’.

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