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“Paranormal Activity” {Blu-ray}
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Paramount Home Video
Genre:
Drama
Release Date:
12/22/09
Special Features:

Digital copy, alternate ending, trailer “Shutter Island”

Review:

Hype can make or break a movie. Word-of-mouth “hype” vs. the hype of a studio usually will result in a film that does well with audiences and at the box office. “Blair Witch Project” created a new standard for low-budget movies that built their reputation by word-of-mouth. Writer/director Oren Peli does a very nice job with “Paranormal Activity” building a “real” world and using a cinéma-vérité approach that adds to the sense of that we are just watching an extended home movie. “Paranormal Activity” isn’t what I would call a horror movie per se but one that builds to a number of disquieting, terrifying moments—the type of terrifying moments when you’re home alone and you hear a sound or see something that seems out-of-place and disturbs you. These type of movies which tend to use the run-of-the-mill every day moments (think “Psycho” as kind of a precursor to this as Hitchcock lulled his audience into a false sense of security as to what the film was truly about before a major shift in tone)and little creepy things that disquiet the viewer. We’re all jaded by the good and bad horror films that we’ve seen that when something like “Paranormal Activity” comes along, it catches us off guard. ***

“Paranormal Activity” focuses on a couple Micah and Katie (played by Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston) who are haunted by some unknown spirit. It’s not the house that’s haunted but Katie herself who seems to be the “chosen” of a very evil spirit. The spirit plays pranks before moving on to some seriously disturbing behavior. ***

Is “Paranormal Behavior” a great movie? No. It’s an enjoyable movie for some folks it will be boring simply because not a lot happens but that’s not what this is about—it’s about how it effects Micha and Katie’s relationship as things get progressively worse. The reason the film gets an “R” rating is simply—language with the “F” bomb being dropped pretty regularly. It’s not because of gore, violence or anything else because actually the film is relatively sedate with small things such as keys moved, doors closed, the attic opened, mysterious footsteps and other strange things. This stuff also brings the film down to earth and, as a result, makes it something that anyone can relate to. ---

Image & Sound:

“Paranormal Activity” is never going to look great. It was shot on SD videotape. If you choose to get this on home video I don’t think you’ll see a big difference between DVD and Blu-ray. Perhaps detail is a bit richer but you’ll also see the limitations of the presentation as well. ***

Audio sounds decent with dialogue front and center. “Paranormal Activity” really isn’t about the presentation. It’s about the sense of reality. ---

Special Features:

A very disappointing package Paramount gives us a main menu that is just as simple and straight forward as the original theatrical presentation. *** We get a seamlessly branched version of the film with its original ending before Steven Spielberg came along and suggested a “boo” type of ending. As to which version you’ll prefer, well that all depends on whether you like the au natural approach of the movie. Certainly the original ending is more organic and fits in with the rest of the movie better. I will say though that Spielberg’s ending was a bit more startling but not any more creepy than the original ending. ***

We do get a trailer for Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” which looks very promising for a pick-up project that Scorsese didn’t originate. ---

Final Words:

“Paranormal Activity” isn’t a classic film nor is it a brilliant thriller but it is an unexpected enjoyable thriller. “Paranormal Activity” is this year’s “Blair Witch Project” coming out of the blue but it doesn’t have the impact to me of a more ambitious “District 9” or even “Cloverfield” although it IS more honest and straight forward than the latter. Rent it.

 

 
 
 
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