Friday, October 9, 2009

Paranormal Unbelievability

Paranormal Activity       WWW Score: 77%

It's creepy and claustrophobic but man is 'Paranormal Activity' seriously flawed - shot in the same style as Blair Witch and yes, Cloverfield - the flick is a fairly effective little scarefest considering it cost $11K to make; but that same $11K provided a script which is riddled with more holes than a ten-foot-high stack of 45's.

A young couple living in a San Diego condo (yes, a condo), believe they are being haunted by some ghostly spirit so the guy goes and gets a camcorder (which accounts for nearly all of the $11K budget) and starts filming the place looking for proof. Well, yes, he gets the proof in the form of: a door moving, a door shutting, a thump, a louder thump, and then an even louder thump - which is revealed in each "camera session" in the middle of the night. Eventually, we learn it's not the condo that's haunted, it's the girl as she apparently has been the target of this spirit since the age of 8.

Over the course of the 80-odd minutes, we meet a psychic who warns them it is not a ghost but rather a "demon" haunting her and who later (funny scene) flees the place after the escalation has begun. And it's in that escalation that the stretching of believability gets torn to shreds.

Yes, you indeed buy into the fact that the couple is being haunted by something "evil" but, if you were to: a) see a Ouija board come to life and catch fire or b) watch demonic footprints suddenly appear inside your bedroom - would you stay INSIDE said condo and then get back into bed to sleep it off?!? No human being would react to what unfolds in the film the way these two do - not a one - except for these two.

After somehow managing to get past the total unbelievability of the characters actions, the ending is fairly well executed - at least it has a conclusion (unlike Blair). But the conclusion and especially the final shot was not nearly as effective as it should have been - going for the cheap scare rather that the seriously creepy one. Bottom line: director Oren Peli came up with a FANTASTIC idea but mucked the thing up.