I finally got a chance to see Paranormal Activity over the Halloween weekend, and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it quite a bit. While a vocal minority has dismissed the low-budget thriller as a lukewarm Blair Witch Project rip-off, I think it accomplishes quite a bit in the scare department without resorting to cheap, blood-and-guts shock tactics. It even succeeds as a teaching tool. Confused? Read on.
Shot in a faux-documentary style and presented as recovered footage, Paranormal Activity, written and directed by Oren Peli, is about a young couple plagued by what seems to be a demonic spirit. In response to a series of strange occurrences in the house, much of which is directed at his girlfriend Katie (Katie Featherston), Micah (Micah Sloat) decides to buy a video camera in an attempt to record these phenomena. But as Micah’s fascination with this supernatural presence deepens, the entity’s actions become far more dangerous.
While terrifying in its own right, Paranormal Activity is also an effective morality tale. Its message? Try not to be such a douchebag. If you think you know more than a demonologist when it comes to dealing with an evil spirit, you don’t. If a psychic tells you that trying to contact a demon with a Ouija board is a bad idea, it is. If verbally challenging a demon only intensifies its malice toward your girlfriend, stop. Bad things will most certainly happen.
Learn from Micah: don’t be a dick. Ghosts (and most people, believe it or not) tend to hate that.