(2007) dir. Oren Peli
viewed: 10/09/09 at AMC Loews Metreon 16, SF, CA
This year’s The Blair Witch Project (1999), which is an easy way to categorize Paranormal Activity, is a super-low-budget film, shot in hand-held, pseudo-realism “caught on tape” style horror film, made on the cheap but getting big distribution and a lot of recognition. It purports itself much like Blair Witch to be supposedly the leftover footage from a real incident. In this case, a demonic haunting of a suburban couple in their home, rather than a research project in the woods.
The film has its moments, highlighting, in a sense, a great contrast to the bevy of horror films that were advertised beforehard that had a lot of crazy special effects, movie stars, and dramatic music and art design to effect “horror”. In this case, you’ve got a couple of no-names, a video camera, things going “bump” in the night, and a modicum of effects, generally of the more subtle variety.
And the best scene, to my mind, when the girl is dragged from her bed by and invisible force, you’ve convinced a lot of the audience that there is “no FX” in this clearly low budget film. So, when they see something like that, the juxtaposed “reality” is far more frightening than it might seem in a conventional film.
Still, it’s a poor man’s The Blair Witch Project, which with its shaky hand-held camera, setting in the ghostly and far more isolating woods, and relative originality, gets much of a boost over this newer feature. That and the film could use some paring down, I would say, taking a lot of time in building before anything of import occurs. And the ending, which I won’t give away, has less fright than the ambiguous imagry of Blair Witch.
Is it fair to compare it so much with The Blair Witch Project? I don’t know. It’s what struck me significantly about this film. Though it reckoned slightly of some other things, the characters and plausibility, etc… Anyways. It’s not even the second coming of Blair Witch but a moderately noble effort to make something out of a vertiable nothing.