Paranormal Activity is about Katie and Micah, a young, well-off couple who are haunted by a supernatural being in their San Diego home. Since it has followed Katie her entire life, she just wants to leave it alone. Micah, however, brings a camera into their bedroom to document the haunting.
Any more plot detail would spoil the movie (there are more than enough spoilers in the trailer), so I’ll say only that things get worse for Katie and Micah before they get better. Luckily, the camera is there to capture it all, and it’s from the camera’s point of view (think The Blair Witch Project) that their story is told.
Paranormal Activity benefits from its stripped-down approach in more ways than just marketing. Though some of character development scenes between Katie and Micah are repetitive and long, the scenes where Micah leaves the camera running on a tripod in the bedroom while they sleep are worth the wait.
When that clock at the bottom of the screen stops, everyone in the theater knows something creepy is about to happen. Your eyes dart from the dark hallway to the shadowy staircase, looking for any sign of the haunting. These moments of carefully crafted tension will have you holding your breath on the edge of your seat every time.
The Verdict: Yes, Katie and Micah are kind of annoying. It quickly gets old watching them bicker about the same things over and over again. Without the minimal character and plot development in the boring daytime scenes, though, we wouldn’t have the bedroom scenes; and boy are they ever worth it. No, this movie isn’t nearly as terrifying as some would claim, but during those few moments when the lighting and tone are absolutely horror-perfect, it’s easy to see why Paranormal Activity is the defining film of this Halloween season.
2.5 stars (out of 4)