Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Paranormal Activity

I said I was going to post about this movie tomorrow, but I got to writing my thoughts about it and here it is....

I had no idea that a nearby theater was playing PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. With all the hype of this “little film,” I was pretty sure the releases would be relegated to the big city venues. But no!

If you haven’t heard, PA (I’m too lazy to type out the whole title, as usual.) is the second coming of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. At this point, we’re far enough away from that film for people to degrade and make fun of it. But, you all, BLAIR WITCH scared me. Not only did it make me sicker than a dog because of motion sickness, but when I went home that night, I was utterly convinced that the witch was behind my blinds, just waiting for me to open them so I could see the face I didn’t see in the film. I was scared witless, and I can’t tell you how much sleep I lost because of that cackling, stick art-loving wench. (This, coming from the girl who had extremely active nightmares about JAWS, which I’d only heard about from an excitable great aunt until I saw the movie years later and became scared all over again. My conscious life has nothing on my imagination.)

BLAIR WITCH, in my humble opinion, is a really well laid-out jeeper-creeper, much like JAWS, with the monster remaining a mystery throughout a lot of the movie. Bit by bit, we’re fed enough information through legend and visual peeks so that the dread and tension build to the point where we don’t even want to see the creature that’s menacing our character/placeholders in the film. In BLAIR WITCH, we never do witness the monster. Also, the film used a structure that is, by now, a horror chestnut—“this is a true story” found footage. And, maybe, with our society's fascination with reality shows and You Tube, this is what we’re going to get for the next fifty years. This format is perhaps what will speak the most profoundly to us.

You might’ve heard that PA is the scariest thing that’s come along in ages. Indeed, I did get many a goosebump. In fact, I’d say that I spent most of the film going from hands in front of my face to hands balled under my chin to hands folded expectantly in my lap in the anticipation of having to put them back up in front of my face. The first half hour or so is pretty sedate: it dwells in the ordinary world of a couple who suspects that there could be a ghost haunting their house, so the guy buys a camera to record the paranormal activity at night in their bedroom. From the half-hour mark on, the build-up to what exactly is haunting the couple is what makes this movie worth a ticket. It definitely has that all-important dread factor. But what REALLY makes this movie work?

It plays on our fears that when we hear things go bump in the night, there’s a reason. It’s not just your house settling. It’s not just a branch rubbing up against the window. And I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a movie use footsteps in a way that makes you forget to take another breath.

What’s kind of hilarious is that this cheap movie has much more impact than most of the $100 million plus crud that was out this summer. It’s a lesson in how you can’t dig deeply into your audience by manipulating the screen with CGI impressions. And that’s another reason PA was successful for me: I was riveted to the dramatic progression. I cared about what was happening to the characters, especially the heroine, who’s the focal point of the story. The only drawback was the ending, but that’s a small detail when I spent the first hour and half strung so tightly that I had to hide my dang face.

One last thing? I have a refrigerator that makes sounds, so I’m kind of afraid to go to sleep now.

Damn this movie.


Nancy Holder said...

OK, SEEEEE? This is why I am SO too chicken to see this movie. You are so brave. I bow to you, braveheart.

She who is often in the house alone...or is she???

Kaela <3 said...

Haha, nice, I will have to watch this. The one movies that scares me most right now is The Strangers. I will never watch that movie again. Ever. I don't know if you saw it, but it's aweful, gory, sadistic, and for me at least an all around bone chiller. It made me triple check my door when I was answering a knock.... bleh. :) Thanks for your movie posts though, I've been looking for some new movies for halloween, although I still plan on watching Hocus Pocus like I do every year. ;)

Crystal Green's Blog said...

Hey, you two!

Nancy Holder--yeah, you were right! Night has fallen now, and I think I'm realizing that this movie is actually scarier for me *afterward.* It's psyching me out because I have a mirror in my room where my bookshelves are reflected. I always wake up, see those shelves in the mirror, and freak a little. I don't even want to think about the heart attack I'm bound to have tonight.
I asked for it! ;)

Kaela! Oh--THE STRANGERS. Creeptastic. If you want to see a similar movie, rent THEM. It's French, but there's a twist in it that THE STRANGERS doesn't have. You know, I've never seen HOCUS POCUS, LOL. Maybe it'll lighten me up....

Happy Halloween!

Kaela <3 said...

Oh goodness, if you like Bette Midler she makes a fabulous head witch, it's a kid friendly movie but one that you can enjoy at an older age as well, at least I can haha. Lots of humor tied in with a halloween theme it's cute, I bet you'd like it. :D Yeah... I will have to check that movie out possibly if I ever get over my utter fear of The Strangers first, HA.
Another movie I really liked, not so scary but... The Others, I never saw any of that movie coming and I just loved the story.
I hope your writing has been going well by the way, Dawn is looking very sexy on the new cover for the final book of this trilogy. [I'm hoping there is another on the way lol.] Oh goodness such a long comment! sorry!

Crystal Green's Blog said...

Kaela, I'll have to check it out, just for fun. :) I really like THE OTHERS, too. I didn't see the twist coming, either; it was executed *so* well!

Thanks about the cover! I love it, too. We'll see where the series goes after BLOODLANDS gets launched.... There's going to be a VB short story in an anthology next fall though.

Hope school is going well!

Celise said...

So can you drop me a personal note and tell me the ending? I have no intention of seeing this, so you won't have to worry about ruining it for me. LOL.

Crystal Green's Blog said...

Will do, Celise!

Anonymous said...

I liked it and I think that I won't will sleep for a week! hahaha, it's really scared me and my wife!
Watch it online here:

Crystal Green's Blog said...

Hey, Anonymous, I had sleeping issues for a few days--thank goodness they didn't last a week.

Is that a link to the movie online?