Friday, October 30, 2009

Paranormal Activity: Haunt Her? I Barely Know Her

Honestly, I didn't think I'd ever see this in theater. I doubted I'd ever rent it. I was willing to admit I may sit down and watch a little of it on television when the time came, or if someone threw a laptop at me and it was playing Paranormal Activity my eyes would allow a second of viewing before my hands jumped up to protect me. Lo and behold, the first day back in Michigan and I'm swept off my feet, plopped into a theater seat three rows away from the screen, and subjected to twenty minutes of previews plus eighty-six minutes of Paranormal Activity. That's the run time in full. Horror movies were "never really my thing" and here I am seeing Drag Me to Hell, Antichrist, Paranormal Activity and countless others all in one year.

I was scared by Paranormal Activity. Yes, I was scared. Lucky for my dignity the level of fear was low and lame. Nothing in the movie had me freaked out any more than hearing a loud thud in the middle of the night coming from the kitchen where loud thuds shouldn't be heard would. I make the comparison because all the 'scary' scenes seem to be the couple hearing unexplained thuds and creaks. The monster in the movie is sound, and it leaves the characters scared witless. It left me ripped off.

I'm proud of Paranormal Activity for being such a huge success. It's something to see to get in the Halloween mood and it isn't boiling over with flesh and gore. That's nearly admirable coming out in a post-Saw I, II, III, IV, V, IV world. The monopoly Saw has retained at the box office during past holiday seasons is appalling, and having a suspenseful ghost movie, meager it may be, is refreshing.

If it wasn't for Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, the lead demon-aggravating duo, I very well may have considered walking out on the movie. Their chemistry as the "engaged to be engaged" victims of supernatural torment held the shakey fright scenes together. Daytime discussions about the ghostly activities, playful banter and outside-voice bickering keep the film interesting and give the audience something to sink teeth into when the thumps and door-slams aren't pulling their weight. The Psychic, played by Mark Fredrichs, was the only weak role. He's a minor character, and I was content letting him read his lines flatly and rush back to his day job.

To say I enjoyed Paranormal Activity is to say something I'm surprised to hear from myself, but I'm saying it. I don't recommend it be the horror movie you spend your Halloween budget on, and I'm hoping The House of the Devil earns my coveted "favorite horror film of 2009" position, but I didn't think I wasted my time and I suggest going out and watching it if there's nothing better to do.


- Eric T. Voigt

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