Paranormal Activity (2007) is our 16th of 31 nights of horror

Gaaaah! Why do I do this to myself? First a movie that makes me paranoid about going into the forest, now one that has me afraid to go to sleep in my own house!

I’m a big fan of haunted house movies. Amityville Horror is a book and movie I loved and Poltergeist still holds up remarkably well. From my article about 10 Cloverfield Lane, you know I’m not a big fan of the “found footage” idea. The premise is often pretty flimsy and it’s improbable that someone would be holding a camera to their face while running for their life. This movie does it right though, and it works remarkably.

First, you need a reason to be filming. A young couple is experiencing odd things happening at night. They suspect someone is playing pranks on them, so they set up a camera to record what is going on. That works.

Second, you need a reason to film everything happening when nothing INTERESTING is going on. They make the boyfriend just enough of a jerk, that you believe he’s the kind of person who can’t put his new toy away, even when it’s annoying his girlfriend.

Watch this movie in the dark for the best effect. During the day, it’s mostly relationship building and backstory, but you KNOW, when the lights go out and the nightvision goes on… something is going to happen. Your eyes will constantly be dancing around the screen trying to spot the evil.

That’s the other cool thing about this movie, the effects. Super, SUPER low budget (one location, only four cast members, a main cast member is also the cameraman and the writer is also the director, editor and cinematographer), instead of expensive CGI visuals, everything is done with practical effects and magicians tricks.

As good as it was, it isn’t perfect. The acting is often kind of shaky, and there are obvious edits in scenes where, realistically, there shouldn’t have been any if this was real. It comes from being so low budget that they only filmed for seven days and the script was improvised. The actors being given scenarios and making up the dialog on their own. Which is fine, but having such a short filming schedule didn’t to allow for more or better takes.

The movie spawned a bunch of sequels and prequels, so I’m curious as to how things improved or changed with a significantly bigger budget… but not tonight. I think I need some camp that relies on good old fashioned jump scares and gives us big bouncing boobs and buckets of blood.

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