October 24th, 2011
I remember watching the first Paranormal Activity as if it were yesterday. The hype had been around for weeks- those commercials with people in line, chanting for a chance to see the most anticipated film of the Halloween season. Night vision cameras captured terrified audience members as they witnessed the low budget phenomena that would make Oren Peli a household name- and frighten even the toughest of movie goers. With a staggeringly low budget and unbelievably fantastic cinematography, Paranormal Activity was a fantastic representation of what low budget horror should be... effectively scary and thought provoking on the cheap... and I proudly admit to being one of those who 'voted' to have it go national.
And it did.
Now here we are- three years later and that original film has paved the way for an entire franchise. Earlier tonight my hubby and I went to see the third installment. It was actually really good- to me, it rivaled the first- and I'm impressed with the box office numbers. There's no doubt in my mind that this is going to become my new favorite Halloween haunt, especially now that the SAW films have finally taken a back seat.
So what is it that makes this movie so damn scary? Why do people like it so much? Are there really ghosts? I can think of dozens of questions that people have asked over and over again regarding the Paranormal Activity films. Some will argue that the movies aren't scary at all, while others recall nearly shitting their pants during certain scenes.
One thing, however, is for certain- Oren Peli is a genius at marketing. And there's not a single doubt in my mind that even those who hate the films were curious enough to go and see them in theaters. And that's a fact.
In honor of tonight's trip to the movies (I highly suggest going, by the way), I'm jotting down my top ten reasons I love Paranormal Activity. Agree to disagree- I think the films are awesome. And fuck you if you don't.
10. Dry humor rocks my world.
Everyone in the film thinks they're a comedian. They'll joke about anything in these movies- from Ouji boards to babies. And for some odd, demented reason- it works.
9. Creepy kids.
With the exception of the childless original, the movies have an abundance of creepy children in them; let me rephrase- creepy children who know how to act.
8. The cameras make it.
Let's face it- hidden footage films are effective. Just ask the dudes behind The Blair Witch Project. And the creators find more and more creative ways to use cameras each time a new movie comes out. First it was the tripod, then it was the security cameras, and in the new one the dude goes so far as to break apart a fan and create his own rotating base. Now that's inventive.
7. The sound effects.
Kudos to the filmmakers for not using obnoxious music. The sound that comes before something goes KA-BOOM is much more effective- and a hell of a lot more scary.
6. No cliches.
Ghosts are cliche. Ghost Hunters has proved this time and time again. But with each Paranormal Activity film- the cliches just go out the window when something new and exciting happens. This isn't your same old ghost flick.
5. Believable cast.
A good horror movie concept can easily be ruined by a horrendous casting decision. So far, the casting calls have been on the money- and good for them. It's made the films much more bearable than something like, oh, House of Wax for example. Thanks Paris Hilton.
4. Coordinating story lines.
Blair Witch 2 made sense- but it didn't mesh well with the original. All three of the Paranormal Activity films connect to one another beautifully- and it all makes sense. Not every franchise can claim that stake.
3. Believable progression.
Oren Peli set the standard in the original. Start out with the small stuff (moving doors) and move onto much larger feats (Katie being pulled from her bed). Much better than throwing the audience into a full-blown haunting.
2. The audience's reactions.
The only way to watch these movies is in the theater- especially during a late night showing. The reactions are priceless- everything from the ghetto girl screaming at the screen to the couple sitting low in their seats completely shaken. It's worth the price of admission.
1. And finally- they're scary movies. Really, truly, scary movies.
Paranormal Activity reminds me what horror is supposed to be- scary. It's supposed to send chills down your spine. It's supposed to make you scream out loud. And it can be done without sex and gratuitous violence. Imagine that.
And there you have it- the reasons I believe Paranormal Activity is effective and just plain awesome. You don't have to agree with me- but admit it, you jumped when Katie threw Micah into the camera too.
Peace, Love and Heartbreak ♥