Old 10-22-2009, 01:18 PM
Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity (2009)

As far as I can tell, those who have seen "Paranormal Activity" can be grouped into two broad categories: those who find it to be a frightening and entertaining experience and those who find most of it to be boring. After viewing the film, I, unfortunately, find myself grouped in with the second of the options.

It starts with Micah (Micah Sloat) showing his new camera to his girlfriend, Katie (Katie Featherston), who ends up being on screen for most of the film. We learn that they have been bothered by recent paranormal activity in their house, so Micah has gotten a camera to try and capture this activity, going so far as to set up a camera in their bedroom to keep an eye out while they sleep. After capturing a small incident, they call in the help of a psychic (Mark Fredrichs) who specializes in ghosts, who recommends that they call in a demonologist. Micah, however, wants a chance to take care of the problem on his own. Meanwhile, the paranormal activities continue to get worse.

Obviously this film wants to be just like "The Blair Witch Project," which it is able to emulate in part with its jittery camera movements, but for the most part, it just ends up being rather dull for most of its running time. "Blair Witch" had been something of an interesting experience on the first viewing, but became unbelievably boring on a second. "Paranormal Activity" accomplishes being boring on just a first viewing.

People have been saying that it is the scariest movie of the year, or in recent years, but there is nothing in the film that really comes close to giving a good scare. It takes awhile to get going in the first place and comes close to being entertaining in the last 15 minutes or so, but by then it is far too late to save it.

The best parts come when we get to witness the recordings made overnight. The incidents start off slow, with creaks, knocks, and a door moving on its own, but gradually they grow into larger incidents which I won't give away here. The thing is, most of the incidents are merely these strange noises, "bumps in the night" if you will, which we are supposed to take as scary, but we know that there is just a crewman around the corner banging on the wall or a technician adding eerie noises to the soundtrack. Writer-Director Oren Peli needs to figure out that it takes a little more than this to make a good horror film.

This reminded me a lot of recent shows like "Ghost Hunters" and "Ghost Adventures" where all of the supposed scares are supposed to come from eerie noises and supposed recordings of ghosts, but these two lose their effects because they can easily be doctored up, or in the case of the eerie noises, created by crewmen. With "Paranormal Activity," we know it's a movie, making it lose a lot of the effect it has in the first place by going for the really low-key scares.

Some of the special effects were done quite well, including an incident with a Ouija board that had me wondering as to how it was done rather than thinking of it being a scary moment. Later events also had me wondering the same thing, but the most obvious answer would be that it was CGI, though seamlessly integrated into the film, making it slightly effective in the entertainment department at least.

"Paranormal Activity" recently went wide, so some people must be enjoying it. A popular ploy of the commercials for this film show audiences being frightened by watching it. They must have been filming the most easily-scared audiences they could find, because, as I mentioned, there is nothing that would garner that kind of reaction except from the easily-scared type. Their reactions are the most paranormal thing about the film. 2/4 stars.

Last edited by Hal2001; 09-09-2010 at 09:31 PM..
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Old 10-22-2009, 03:01 PM
Did you see the screener?
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:38 AM
This was the screener, though I did get to see the theatrical ending as well, which I thought was better and more effective than the ending the screener had. Still, it wouldn't have been enough to save the movie from being a mostly boring experience.
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:48 AM
I'm almost positive the fire effect was done in Adobe After effects, or it could have easily been done with Sony Vegas( pro versions). It's a very simple effect in Vegas. Just put the flame on the top layer( or a layer above your main footage), keyframe it to occur at a particular moment in the timeline, add some crackling fire audio and voila you have fire. I'm sure anybody that has perused Yt for more than a couple of months would have run across some of these effects. He could have easily used Visionlab Studio also, a powerful visual effects program that's relatively cheap for what it offers.

For me it wasn't the effects themselves but how they were utilized to create a genuine atmosphere of terror.
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