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Paranormal Activity back to reviews
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Long on atmosphere, short on believability.
In a film like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity, the most important thing isn't atmosphere or a sense of creeping dread (both films handle these deftly enough) - it's nothing more than the ability to sustain the viewer's Willing Suspension Of Disbelief. The Blair Witch Project does this. Paranormal Activity does not.

It's a very simple problem that makes a mediocre hash out of a film that could have been excellent. The nighttime scenes are extremely tense and creepy, and the way the whole thing is shot is very suspenseful, but Micah is an astonishingly unlikable character. He is a complete and utter moron, and the way he goes about being a moron is so obnoxious he's barely watchable. He does precisely the opposite of what anyone in the film tells him to. He deliberately antagonizes a clearly dangerous supernatural entity which he has every reason to believe in by the 45-minute mark, and has the sheer gall to act surprised when his girlfriend is angry with him. He clearly thinks he's protecting Katie, but changes absolutely nothing about his behavior when it's clearly shown to make things worse for her. I might even have bought all this - there's no shortage of idiotic male posturing and bull-headed chivalry in the world, nor is there any shortage of pure stupidity - if not for the last twenty minutes of the film, in which the characters' behavior just becomes far too unrealistic to maintain that suspension of disbelief. It simply falls apart.

There isn't much else to the film. The characters are not particularly likable - even Katie, who may well protest her boyfriend's idiocy but never does anything about it - and too much of the nature of the problem is revealed to maintain fear of the unknown. The sense of dread established in the first two-thirds is torn down in the final act. There really are moments and sequences here that are frightening and well-handled, but they just aren't enough to excuse the rest of it.
As a friend of mine said, "Yeah like it's one thing to not do what you're told, it's another to do the opposite of it, every single time. He wasn't useless, he was negative productive."
comment #17634 Austin 10th Jan 13
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