50. Paranormal Activity (Oren Peli, 2009)

Paranormal Activity is a cinematic phenomenon that seems both an extension and a departure from The Blair Witch Project. It employs the similar technique of supposedly found footage, but it also reflects a society that is entranced even deeper in the world of technology. With Youtube, we live in a world where nearly everyone can be a theoretical filmmaker and the line between home video and art is continually blurred. I think this apparent ease that we can all suddenly be filmmakers undermines all the skill in both writing and editing that went into Paranormal Activity. Sure, an opening and closing door is only so scary, but it is how insignificant this act is that makes it so bone chilling. It seems like a test, and as the “haunting” becomes more aggressive, there is an almost frightening tameness to this initial act. The film takes advantage of its chosen style, and the long shots of the bedroom at night are excruciatingly long and the wide angle lens makes the fullness of the frame overwhelming, and even oppressive. The deterioration of the couple’s relationship also seems to explore the idea of the untrustworthy and incapable patriarchal figure, as the boyfriend attempts to “deal” with the situation only by ignoring the feelings of his girlfriend and aggravate the events because of a case of inflated ego. The essentially useless male figurehead seems to be a very common theme in horror of the recent decade, and one can only imagine it is tied with a general distrust of more powerful institutions that are, more often than not, tied to traditional ideas of a patriarchal society. Though it occasionally asks the audience to make a leap of faith as far as suspension of disbelief is concerned, if you allow yourself to be taken in by the slow build tension and scares of Paranormal Activity, it will certainly be an experience in horror that will not soon be forgotten.

3 responses to “50. Paranormal Activity (Oren Peli, 2009)

  1. Whoa high praise!

    Paranormal activity = Blair Witch + Cloverfield

    I’ll give you that it’s great at building tension, but I don’t think it charts any new territory, necessarily?

  2. The beginning of the movie was dragging so I suggest going into the second half where the real action starts…

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