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This intense edge-of-your seat horror film follows a young suburban couple who record the sinister disturbances in their home while they sleep – even as the domestic haunting becomes more frequent, more threatening and all too personal. Hypnotic and harrowing, Paranormal Activity uniquely delivers frightful suspense punctuated by moments of sudden and unexpected terror, all the way to the shocking ending.
Featuring a version not shown in theaters with an exclusive alternate ending, Paranormal Activity is the one supernatural thriller DVD to own that plays on your most primal fears, and guarantees you’ll need to sleep with the lights on.
Like The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity is an impressive and harrowing indie chiller that derives much of its terror--and there is quite a bit of that in its brief running time--by playing on the most basic of human fears: that which cannot be seen. Though one might assume that the point-of-view aesthetic had been worn out thanks to Cloverfield and Quarantine and, lest one forgets, Blair Witch, Paranormal makes excellent use of the single-camera technique, which helps to not only preserve the film's central conceit--a new-minted couple records the increasingly threatening supernatural phenomena that have invaded their home on a camcorder--but underscore the realism needed to drive home the low-fi if completely persuasive special effects. The approach is also crucial to the film's suspense, which unfolds in long, largely broken takes to nerve-rattling effect. Not every horror fan--or moviegoer--will fall for the film's spook-show approach. Those that found Blair Witch's less-is-more approach aggravating will feel the same way about Paranormal, but the sleight of hand exhibited by first-time director Oren Peli, and assisted by his two leads, relative newcomers Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, should provide adventurous viewers with fresher and stronger scares than anything from Hollywood in recent years. --Paul Gaita