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  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of GV)

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Oren Peli
Cast: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Friedrichs, Amber Armstrong, Ashley Palmer
RunTime: 1 hr 26 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: NC-16
Official Website:

Opening Day: 12 November 2009


After a young, middle class couple moves into what seems like a typical suburban "starter" tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially when they sleep. Or try to.

Movie Review:

There’s a kind of horror these days. It sickens your soul, creates nasty imprints in your mind and leaves you wanting to bathe in holy water. And it comes with bucket loads of diced human anatomy. But the even scarier bit is it has become a staple in the genre in recent years.

Now why in the sanity of your mind would you want to sit through a movie like that, especially after a long stressful work day? What happened to horror films that rely on atmosphere and clever scares?

Along comes Paranormal Activity, a breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale (pun intended) genre. And boy, am I thankful for it. I am crossing my fingers that its robust popularity will wipe out that repulsive 'torture porn' fad in good time.

Paranormal Activity harkens back to the days when horror films were more concerned with our fears for the unknown than confronting audiences with mutilated prized body parts. It is a nice companion piece to that 1982 Tope Hooper classic, Poltergeist. Whereas the latter was heartbreaking (yeah, rare for a horror movie), this movie settles for jolts.

However, this movie will be most closely compared to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. Both were made with low budgets, were made by unknown directors and depended on sly viral marketing campaigns to drive them to mainstream success. But this movie is clearly the better of the two. It is faster-paced, has more scares and a shockingly good ending. For audiences whose stomachs churn easily, it will be a relief for them to know that most scenes were shot on a tripod.

Granted, Paranormal Activity has its share of annoying leads; a tantrum-throwing Katie Featherston and an insensitive Micah Sloat. But they behave the way real people would if confronted by the hellish encounters depicted onscreen. So if you shove that aside, you’ll have a pretty nifty thrill ride.

Yes, the mockumentary format may not be fresh. But the movie adds an interesting angle to this format. Leveraging on our primal fears for the unknown, the movie uses these human weaknesses to its full advantage. Unlike Blair, it exploits our fears and leaves little to the imagination, except the evil entity in question. Its idea of showing 'what goes on around you when you’re sleeping' is brilliant. If my memory can be trusted, I’ve never seen a movie that explores it to such creepy and gut-wrenching effect here.

While Blair spooked audiences with it implicitly suggestive scenes of supernatural horror, Paranormal Activity is a full-blown affair. Its atmosphere is drenched with dread and tension. The hauntings the couple experience are shown in full visual glory and you’ll probably be in awe of how they manage to capture those instances on screen, and especially on a video camera. Of course, visual effects play a large part in the conceit. But it is quite something to see it on an amateurish video format.

Like me, you’ll want to suspend the belief that this is a mockumentary. And embrace the idea that it is an actual lost footage. It’s infinitely better and more chilling to think of the film that way.

Movie Rating:

(An overhyped horror? Not a ghost of a chance)

Review by Adrian Sim


. The Fourth Kind (2009)

. Quarantine (2008)

. [REC] (2007)

. Hell's Highway: KM 31 (2007)

. Cloverfield (2007)

. Shutter (2008)

. Dark Water (2005)

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