Paranormal Activity. It's a cross between 'The Blair Witch Project' and 'The Changeling'. It's about a young couple who is plagued by a spirit that is after the girl. The whole film is done by the point of view of the camera the couple uses to document these happenings. Although it is all footage based it never falls into the shaky cam area. Even when the camera is being carried around loosely it's never dizzying or nauseating. It does fall into some of the same issues I had with 'The Blair Witch Project' which was when it wasn't night time and they're standing around talking you do wonder why the camera is on and why we can't move on with the story. Luckily though this isn't through the whole thing. Mainly the first half to help set up the characters.
The film reminded me a lot of those Unsolved Mysteries segments on ghosts. They used to freak me out. And by used to I mean they still do. But they were always about the simpler things. A creaking door. A knocking sound. A shadow across the wall. That is what happens in 'Paranormal Activity'. A lot of it is odd sounds and quick shadows. While CGI was used it's not for big special effects. In a few shots it appears (and I'm only assuming as I don't know for sure) to have been used to just remove the person that would cause the shadow. It's not noticable but my guess is it was used to help eliminate certain elements for the simple effect to work. By going the simpler route the film works. Once you see the wide shot of the couple sleeping in bed and an ominous low end bass you know something is about to happen. By the fourth night the audience would tense up which was great.
Hopefully the film will see a wider release. Although I think the film will work at home. It was great seeing an audience reaction but I think if I saw this for the first time at home by myself in a dark room I would have soiled myself. For some reason I was distracted everytime someone went to the washroom. Which seemed to happen every 2 minutes. I guess because I was sitting near the door I noticed it more. I did feel the ending needed just one more scene. I felt just as it got to the moment when you thought all hell was about to break loose that it then got to it and it ended. Just for my own sake I would have liked just one more moment before that. Although that might just be me and something that may not be an issue with future viewings.
This film has a long life and one that I think will survive for a long time. Although rated R there is nothing in it that is really hard R. It's more a few F bombs than anything. I think if they had dropped a few of them (no pun intended) and let it be more of a PG-13 then it might get a broader audience. Trust me, if this film was PG it would still be effective. Sometimes a creaking door is all you need.
Here is the film's official site and the trailer.