Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Totoro's review of... Paranormal Activity!

Aloha everybody!
I FINALLY had the opportunity to see the oft-discussed, oft-recommended Paranormal Activity... And here is my review:


The Story
If I were to compose a log line for this movie, it would read something like this: A couple in their 20's find themselves affected by a supernatural presence in their suburban California home. Short, sweet & to the point... I just wish the film was that way, especially in the beginning. But however, once the initial exposition is done, the film improves dramatically.

The Review
This film is similar in many ways to its great spiritual predecessor The Blair Witch Project - both films are supernatural-themed, feature actors (Katie & Micah) giving unscripted performances as themselves, focus more on atmosphere instead of action, and were shot on a very small budget (Blair Witch had an initial budget of around $20-25k, whereas Paranormal Activity was slightly smaller with $16k). As an aspiring filmmaker I can certainly take home a few lessons in addition to some sleepless nights. However, unlike Blair Witch, this film is set in a single location (Katie & Micah's Spanish-themed house) rather than various spots in a single locale (Blair Witch was shot at Maryland's Seneca Creek State Park.) Additionally, the film's believability is enhanced by its bare-bones production method. For example, the film is shot with a camera just a few steps above what you'd find at your local Best Buy - and exactly what a young couple in their 20s with some degree of wealth (Katie is a student & Micah's stated job is a day-trader) might have access to. Despite being glued to my seat, I found the film's ending to be its weakest point.

The Verdict
This movie (and by extension, its phenomenal box office success) is a prime example of successful micro-budget filmmaking. Despite the simplicity of its production, the film delivers some deeply suspenseful moments. And while I wholeheartedly recommend this film, I place it squarely in the SUSPENSE genre. Die-hard horror fans (like Cetic & his brother Lance) will probably find it slow & boring. 9/10

~Totoro (Executive Producer)

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