Because October is the month of horror movies, it seemed appropriate to defend the quality of the documentary-style horror film “Paranormal Activity” (2007). The film has been received with a healthy dose of skepticism: film critics question if it can be as successful as “The Blair Witch Project,” and audiences criticized the film’s reliance on jump scares. However, there are some genuinely terrifying characteristics to watch out for as the bedroom door slowly creaks open.
The horror factor to some extent depends on how far the viewer is willing to suspend disbelief.This film has scenes that may confuse the viewer. Do not reject them. One of the best terrors in “Paranormal Activity” is the fact that not everything is explained. The later films in the franchise work a little too hard to try to explain things, which is a defensive (and misguided) reaction to the critiques of the first film.
The casual atmosphere in the film allows it to recreate some of the successes of the “Blair Witch Project.” The duo of actors were not famous celebrities were therefore unknown to almost everybody watching. The lack of any framing introduction to the film gives it the feel of found footage. It was shot in an actual house, implying that the haunting could happen to anybody. Even in the credits, in which we’re supposed to be given the comfort that this is just a movie, it is revealed that the actors used their real names in the film. This just takes one more step towards being scarily close to invading our own lives.
Speaking from experience, the best way to prepare for watching the movie is simply to convince oneself of the scary nature of the film. Immersion can come by being tricked by an older brother that the movie was in fact found footage and sitting truly horrified throughout the whole film until the credits roll (again, speaking from experience). No matter how it’s done, a viewer should allow themselves to fall into the atmosphere of “Paranormal Activity” in order to witness the high-quality horror that the hour and 26 minutes has to offer. Just be sure to be careful of what lurks at the bottom of the stairs.
—Staff writer Daniel P. Rivera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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