Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Paranormal Activity

Definitely the most terrifying psychological horror of the decade.

Until the other day I was of the opinion that the so-called 'horror' genre is one of those areas where everything has been tried.

From epic end-of-the-world special effects to fake Blair Witch-like shaky camcorder, to monsters, possessions and the most recent school of blood pouring out of eyeballs (i.e. Saw, Hostel, Wolf Creek et al), it looks like it's increasingly difficult for directors and scriptwriters to tread on unexplored territory.

Therefore you'd have thought that a film titled Paranormal Activity is not going to make you jump in your seat any more than a couple of times. Wrong. And this is why.

An independent US film from 2007 that has just found mainstream distribution worldwide (hence its UK arrival last week), Oren Peli's film was presented to the wider public as real footage as discovered by the police.

But unlike movies like REC or The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity doesn't try so hard to appear "real", and yet it feels more genuine. How they managed, I don't know, perhaps with less dialogue, better acting and a steadier camera. But the result is that it will seriously pin you to your seat and make you shit in your pants and make Blair Witch look like Only Fools and Horses by comparison.

Its strongest point lies in the notion that 'less is more'. Just like in pop or rock music the spaces between the notes are more important than the notes itself, this film doesn't show anything obvious, let alone ghosts, monsters or even blood. It leaves it to the viewers to work themselves up with paranoia.

And yet the element of suspence is second to none. Perhaps at levels I've only experienced the first time I watched the Shining- which is in the super league of psychological horrors.

Don't be put off by the initial five minutes, because after that the build-up is just relentless, with a constant dripping of tension and anxiety.

Paranormal Activity is the story of a young woman (Kate) who believes she's been haunted by a presence. Micah, her testosterone-fuelled whizz kid of a boyfriend decides to buy a state-of-the-art camera to document any possible dodgy event. Somehow this leads to a chain of disturbing events which gradually drags the main characters to the edge of a nervous breakdown.

As usual, more we won't reveal. But let's just say that this film brought me back to those teenage days when horror movies would still play on my mind after a day or two. I watched Paranormal Activity two days ago now and, I'm ashamed to say, last night I spent half an hour frozen in bed deliberating whether I could really hold in that slash or not. Enough said.


Madam Miaow said...

Kerr-ist! We're watching this tonight and now you've put me off. COZ I AM A WUSS!

But I shall boldly go into that dark place. I have been warned ...

Paul said...

I want to watch to watch this but cannot persuade my other half. This sort of thing is difficult to get her to watch ever since I took her to see Saw on a date. Amusingly Saw is now available for the xbox crazy old world.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Sounds cool, I may go and see it.

Madam Miaow said...

OK, saw this last night. I have to say I thought it was building slowly but nicely and I was fully expecting to be hiding under my seat.

But ...

I speak as a scaredy cat who can't take her horror films and I was not frightened at all. The credits rolled leaving me going, "Hunh?"

The Blair Witch Project had me terrified and I was really disturbed by the ending. Nothing about this disturbed me except for the fact the guy was such an idiot. And the cop thing ... a bit lame I thought. A shame because it was a brilliant low-budget atmosphere head-frakk that just couldn't reach the requisite pitch for me.

Paul, I couldn't watch Saw at all. This is much tamer.