Last week I went to see Paranormal Activity. It’s a low budget thriller about a couple who film (Blair Witch style) the strange things that happen in their house. It’s been circulating festivals for a couple years, trying to find a distributor. Finally Paramount picked it up, and did a limited release. Luckily, and surprisingly, State College was one of the towns that got to show it.
The theater in State College was doing midnight shows only, but I went on a Thursday night anyway with a friend from work, and found a packed house. They had sold out the screen they planned to show it in so they moved it into 2 other screens, both of which sold out as well.
The crowd was made up of several types. But was predominantly groups of 4 to 6 people, as though everybody wanted a large gang to ease their tensions. The hype for this movie had been getting outrageous, with people calling it the best horror film they’d ever seen, with nightmares for days afterward.
Let me say this: it was pretty damn scary.
Paranormal Activity was filmed on a $15k budget in the director’s own house, with a single camera. Yet the story is well written (despite some air-headed characters who should probably have called the cops and/or a priest about 20 nights earlier). It’s got one of the best build-ups I’ve ever seen in a horror film, with each night of their experiences getting progressively worse and worse as the activities get more intense.
I have been a horror fan for years and yet this is the first movie in a long time that gave me some honest-to-goodness creep-out moments. Unlike the grotesque torture of the Saw films or the shocks of a slasher, this film scares with realism, in that it feels much more tenable than most supernatural horror films.
It’s scary sure, but it’s fun. Everybody needs to go out and see this when it comes to your town.