Oren Peli directs Paranormal Activity, as strange, supernatural activity starts up in a couples house after they move into a suburban house, the film stars Katie Featherstone, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs.
Despite what the franchise has now become, Paranormal Activity stands as a decent entry point, being effective at what it aimed to do with its simple premise, being made on a very small budget in comparison to other horror films similar to it. With a basic set up like this, the trick is making the scares feel fresh and thrilling each time we see the cameras as we roughly know what’s coming next and the plot does a decent at keeping you interested as you watch, things getting more elaborate as the plot goes on.
Paranormal Activity, despite moments of literal night camera watching manages to stay fairly interesting and engaging with its scares and actually knowing that there are scares to come keeps you on your toes as you watch as we know there’s a demonic presence out there and up to no good. There are some good camera techniques used to try and emphasize realism, showing us footage of cameras set up around the house and random things happening, there’s something unsettling about seeing things that just happen that are unexplained, especially if you imagine the same things happening in your house as you sleep. The cameras do sort of bring you into the story a bit more as well with the found footage aesthetic, the film trying to convey that all of this happened in the real world and was essentially found footage, as unbelievable as it may seem at times. With some jump scares (loud noises!) thrown in for good measure and whether you hate their places in modern horror or not, some of them do catch you off guard and give you a bit of a fright (the first time around anyway).
The scares are effective, though I personally wasn’t that shaken up by watching them but if you saw Paranormal Activity, 2 or 3 in a packed theatre then you probably remember how people reacted to scene and moments in the films, whether you personally thought they were scary or not, they did scare a lot of people in a way that most horror films don’t quite manage to these days. And the performances by the two main characters Katie and Micah – Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat in real life are adequate, nothing stellar but sort of believable considering the situation that they find themselves in, things are tense and their relationship gets strained by the demonic presence.
Paranormal Activity is an effective horror film, achieving what it sets out to do with some simple camera techniques and a basic set up that worked really well, spawning a franchise and a number copy cat horror films in the years since.
. Simple set up that works well
. Good use of cameras to bring audience in and generate scares
. Good use of viral marketing
. Plot is a bit predictable