Reviews: Paranormal Activity
Review of the Trilogy
I haven't seen part 4, but since i hear it's bad, I think it's better to give that it's own review when i see it. Paranormal Activity is...okay. Not good or bad, Just OK. It's mostly just very dull. I get slow burning suspense, but so little happens that i couldn't really care. On top of that, it was mostly just really annoying/stupid banter, with characters i cared nothing for. Well, katie is okay....It's micah i hate. He's a douche. I also love mocking how damn this demon is. Door closing has never been so Scary. Wait, it still isn't scary! But, at the end, it goes get shockingly creepy and cool. But it ends before it can get good. Overall, i'd give a C-, but only cuz it tried to be different. PA 2, is much better. The characters are much more interesting, and their banter is fun. Everyone (except Dan near the end)is likable, and I didn't want them to die. BUT, it's also MORE boring, with the "land of nothing" segments being even more un-eventful. The boring parts make it hard to really like. It just prevents it from being the great horror film it should have been. However, it does get scary and good at the end, and it ties into the first film very well. So i'm more mixed on 2 than 1. It's better when it's good, but worse when it's dull. Oh, and Dan? PUTTING THE DEMON IN YOUR SISTER WON'T HELP. It's once again okay, but mostly kind of decent. 6 out of 10. Now for PA 3...Finally, they got it right! For one, it's scary and entertaining the whole time. It rarely gets boring, and in every scene, something important happens. The characters aren't as good as 2, but they are mostly likable. The 80's aspect works very well, the acting is good, and the scary are genuis. The last half is especially good, as there is lots of supsense and some really great scares. And it's NEVER boring. But...it gets kind of dumb. The "disbelief" thing gets just weird neat the end with the mom,and some moments are weird. Dumb logic like that just stops me from really loving it. But for finally making me like a PA movie, I can forgive that. It's not an amazing film, but much better. I give it a B. Overall, this is an okay trilogy, and i'm glad people get into it, even if i mostly can't. Seriously, Doors aren't scary.
I really dislike this film. What can I say about it? I'm mainly annoyed that people compare this tripe to the Blair Witch Project. I think audiences nowadays want stupid obvious scares that jump out with lame scare chords and spooky dead-people faces with an escalating soundtrack. I'm sorry, but that doesn't work any more. I think anyone who understands the horror genre will dislike Paranormal Activity. The movie accentuates the utterly pointless scenes and overplays the horror element with ridiculous /x/ style novice creepypasta elements. The scene where the Ouija board sets on fire, for example. How many things are just ridiculous with this scene? I couldn't resist yelling at the TV when the fucking thing combusted in to flames. Remember The Blair Witch Project? The horror was in the subtle psychological torments of the characters. The fact that we never see the antagonist makes it scary. Paranormal Activity messed this up in spades. Technically we don't see the bad guy, but an invisible demon who wanders around the house smashing shit? Not scary in the slightest. If you're under the age of 13 and have never seen a horror movie, go and watch Paranormal Activity. You'll probably enjoy it. If you want an actual horror movie you're probably better off watching Lake Mungo.
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.
PA 4: Bad things happen - the end.
(spoilers for the other films!) The previous three films had all been setting things up to establish that this demonic entity was, because of an agreement by an ancestor, owed the first male child in one family's bloodline. Cool, each movie added to that. PA 4 did not. The scares were formulaic, unimaginative, and many badly lampshaded. The plot consists of Katie (from the first movie) and her supposed kid Robbie living across the street from our protagonists. At one point Katie is injured and because there's absolutely no one else (despite later evidence to the contrary) to take care of Robbie, he's taken in. Things, predictably, get very bad for our protagonists. Apparently, Robbie isn't Hunter, it's actually Wyatt, the sweet 6 year old adopted kid of the protagonists, despite no explanation given for how Hunter left Katie's care and was up for adoption. If he's Hunter, who's Robbie? Convenient that Katie found a house across the street from Wyatt. The main problem with this movie is that things simply happen, some are followed up on but rarely, as well as some large Fridge Logic questions. The previous movies could all be explained for why the footage was found - a police investigation was looking into it or it had been stored away, here the footage was hidden in computers where no one would find it unless they were looking for it - who's watching it? Alex's parents are completely inattentive (even when she was nearly killed by the demon and has footage to demonstrate it). A knife disappears in a flashy fashion, only to later reappear as a scare - no relation to the plot. In the ending, Alex has need of the police for multiple reasons yet resorts to trying to flag down a car. The coven is back and it's MUCH larger. Preternatural abilities are demonstrated, but only provide a "this is new" sort of moment. (Conveniently the main character is asleep with sleeping pills when it happens). The movie follows the checklist of the previous films but with shallower characters (if not copies from PA 2 - Alex is Ali, the same boyfriend, the skeptical father). Characters are killed without warning, some without generating sympathy. The main draw of Paranormal Activity is an impending sense of doom despite our heros efforts - that's not present here. What is here is "It Got Worse" mixed with "rocks fall, everyone dies".
Its all about the journey
The film did it's job well to keep me interested and entertained. The building tension moves at an excruciatingly slow pace, and practically made me beg to see what it was building up to. Generally, it was very fun to watch with some genuinely creepy scenes. The characters themselves were fairly bland though. Micah still pisses me off with just how stupid he is. Katie on the other hand is more interesting, but not enough for me to really care, though that doesn't mean I didn't feel scared for her. After all, her situation is one that is genuinely scary if you ponder what it would be like for you to go through it. The ending was dark and terrifying, but it left me with a hollow, bitter feeling. I had so many questions that weren't answered, and I desperately wanted to see more...but alas, the credits had rolled. Of course, I had to watch the alternate ending... Personally, I didn't see why everyone said it was scarier... Maybe I just like jump scares more? Anyway, to sum up. Paranormal Activity is not a movie for a person seeking a satisfying finish. But, if you are a person who wholeheartedly believes that the journey is the destination, this is most definitely a movie for you. Rating: 3.5/5
The series has an interesting premise, if a bit unoriginal. The key is execution, though, and that's where Paramount pictures epicly failed. It can be summed up in one sentence: 70 minutes of relationship drama laced with 10 minutes of Jump Scare after predictable Jump Scare. I shouldn't want to skip through half the movie. Especially bad eis the fact that the half of the movie I skipped through was incredibly boring with no plot bearing whatsoever. The typical twist ending was cliched, predictable, and not scary in the least. The creature is never really explained, with only the vaguest hint that something along the lines of a demonic Stalker With A Crush is ocurring here. It's supposed to have a mockumentary, fear-of-the-unknown feel to it, I understand, but hen you can get outdone by a no-budget web series, you're doing something wrong. The acting was okay, and the effects were pretty believable, but in the end, I'd skip this one. Final rating: 1.5/5. Reccomendation: Don't watch this, or at least try not to pay money for this.
Review of the sequel
I should start by mentioning I haven't seen the first film, which might be a problem for those who have. Paranormal Activity 2 has been getting a lot of criticism for being too much like the original, and I can't comment on that at all. So let this review serve those who likewise missed the first, but considered watching this new one whilst Halloween is still nearby. This film is atrociously boring. The first half hour is nothing but some family's baby videos (as if audience members don't find those annoying enough in real life, already). I ended up hating the family for being so dull and wasting my time. The only character I liked was a cool robot that cleaned the pool. After an exhausting amount of waiting, the ghost finally decides to show up. He spends most of the film dropping pans and making a racket for no apparent reason. I got the impression that the ghost was just a big klutz who couldn't move around the house without knocking past the furniture or stubbing his toes. The film is entirely reliant on jump scares to provide the "horror" and it even manages to screw that simple device up; the scares only occur at night, and only when some stupid low rumble becomes audible. I guess the idea was that we weren't supposed to notice the noise and that it was meant to provide some subconscious sense of foreboding, but all it did was clearly telegraph the ghost attacks. As soon as it switches to day, the film drudges along again, with more boring family conversations. Don't watch this film. Don't even rent it. Its reliance on cheap scares, and the fact that you can't give a shit about these boring characters makes this a real turkey.
This movie goes for the Nothing Is Scarier approach, but fails completely with a couple of characters stupider than the ones in The Strangers (and that's saying something), especially Micah, who might be the biggest moron in the history of morons, who basically DOESN'T CARE ABOUT HIS GIRLFRIEND'S WELLBEING and only wants to tape something cool, so he provokes the demon in every. Single. Way. Dude, fuck off, will you? And this technique is used to keep the movie going, despite being noticeable and stupid. And after seeing Paranormal Activity 2 I am also annoyed at the fact that all the bad things happening are the men's fault. Why couldn't ANYTHING be the fault of one of the ladies? (Though to be fair, Katie's just as stupid and as fault as her dumbass boyfriend). So, no, I wouldn't recommend the movies to anyone with taste or any modicum of intelligence. But hey, if you want to see Incredible Dull-Ability, go ahead. It's your funeral. Paranormal Activity: 3/10. Paranormal Activity 2: 2/10.
Review on both
I loved both movies! I love the shock scare type moments and regularly re-watch them to jump at the same down-the-stairs trip or pots falling down from a rack. I had no problem watching these movies and enjoying them. The fact that they have the low rumble before something scary happens is very much cool since it gets my nerves on edge and then cranks them Up to Eleven! I had seen The Blair Witch Project before and had found it to be not to scary, which a lot of people say it is, and regularly compare this movie to. I found this movie to regularly shock me out of my seat. I went to the midnight release of the 2nd film and almost jumped over the row of seats in front of me because of the shock of the pots and pans falling and the kitchen deciding compliments of mr. possessing demon to deconstruct itself organizationally.
Good, but not totally original
Before I start, let me say that Paranormal Activity is not a bad film. It has a creepy atmosphere, and is better than most of the horror movies of 2009. There are two main problems with it though: you can read below and decide if they make the film not worth seeing. 1. It's basically a carbon copy of The Blair Witch Project. Seriously, all you have to do is take BWP, replace "three college students in the woods" with "two twenty-somethings in their San Diego house", and you've got this film. The concept of filming, the way noises/movement freak the people out, and... well I don't want to spoil, but "other things"... are all lifted straight from BWP without any alteration. You may or may not have a problem with this. Personally, I loved the Blair Witch Project, and at the time thought it was one of the scarier movies ever made, but it hasn't stood the test of time well. Sort of a Seinfeld Is Unfunny for horror, I guess. 2. It's the same thing repeated over and over again: Katie and Micah go to sleep, in the middle of the night they hear weird noises, the next day they they agonize over what to do. Repeat fifteen times or so. The only change is that the things that happen during the night get worse and worse, and towards the end it does get pretty scary, but mixing it up a little would've been nice. Is it worth seeing? If you enjoy movies like The Blair Witch Project, yes, since it's not all that different. If you hated BWP, you'll probably hate this.