I saw the Blair Witch Project. Within the first two minutes of Paranormal Activity, I was scared of the same thing. Not so much the horror movie aspect but the motion sickness—shaky camera angles from a hand-held camera. Nothing worse than trying to watch a movie and just ending up nauseous. However, I was wrong. Paranormal Activity is nothing like Blair Witch. Sure, it involves a hand-held video camera and no-name actors. Yes, there’s the paranormal aspect. Yeah, you’ll be pretty dang scared. However, Paranormal Activity one-ups Blair Witch in that it stays with you long after you leave the theater. It makes you scared to go home. It makes you scared to sleep, because it’s about two people just like you and me. And it takes place in your basic suburban home. And things go really, really wrong, to the point of making grown men say, “Well, I’m sleeping with the lights on tonight.”
It’s about a young couple, moving into a new place, after three years of dating bliss. I say bliss with a hint of sarcasm, because it’s the bliss we’ve all seen a million times. This couple reminded me of couples I’ve met and befriended over the years. They’re happy. They’re funny. But they’re not perfect. They’re not a “movie” couple. They’re a real life couple next door, and that’s what makes the movie even more terrifying. It’s back to the Blair Witch dichotomy. Blair Witch happens in the woods to weird college video nerds. Paranormal Activity happens in a house just like yours to people you know and love. So this couple moves into a new house, and freaky stuff starts happening. Like any young dude, out to protect his woman, the lead male decides to set up a video camera in their bedroom to try and capture whatever’s going on via videotape.
Again, this worried me. I had flashes of the alien scene in Signs when you see way too much, and it takes away all the terror. However, the beauty of Paranormal Activity is that you never see too much. You see enough to make you curl into fetal position and cover your eyes. I’m not here to be a spoiler. I’m not going to give you too many details. I will tell you there’s this part with POWDER. Not the super duper pale dude from that sentimental 90s flick, but actual powder—the kind you put in your shoes when it’s hot outside. It was this powder scene that made me want start crying and never, ever sleep alone again.
The fact is they made this film in a week. They spent about fifteen grand. The director used his own home as the film’s setting, and yet, it’s number one at the box office. It made over nine million its opening weekend. It’s because when one guy sees it, he tells his buddies. His buddies tell their buddies, and soon, an entire city has seen Paranormal Activity. I will tell you this: there’s no reason to see the movie twice. It is great. It is terrifying. However, once you’ve seen it, I just don’t think the terror will be the same. You’ll know what’s coming, and I imagine, the pithy couple dialogue will get old a second time around. Yes, yes, yes, you should see it once, though. You should see it in a group, because Lord knows, I wasn’t walking to my car alone after that movie. And yeah, when I got home, I was looking over my shoulder and locking my bedroom door. As if that would help. As a serious horror flick fan, I know that never helps. But I’m human, so I did it. Don’t judge me. Because I know, once you see Paranormal Activity, you’ll be doing the same thing.
And I swear, you’ll never look at powder the same way again. Happy Halloween…