It was the one movie that I really should have made the effort to see. All the ads made this film look like the second coming of Leatherface. Remember these ads?
Anyway, the people who know me in real life were dying to find out my opinion on it. Unfortunately I missed it in theaters. Partially it was because I was a little intimidated by its supposed intensity, but mostly it was because I could never get the money and the time together. I'm sad I missed it in the theater because I would love to have seen it done properly. As it stands, I watched a DVD of it while on three different types of medication for an epic ear infection, which made the whole thing extra-surreal.
It's also making writing this review a challenge.
Is Paranormal Activity good? Depends on the audience. Kids who expect horror to be nothing but gore and jump-spike scares are gonna feel let down by this one. I liked it. It reminded me of how little you actually need to tell a scary story. The movie works just on sound and suggestion, on strong performances and a slow escalation of terror. Much like The Blair Witch Project, it's a movie that keeps a claustrophobic focus on the leads. In both movies, as shit begins to unravel, I really came to dread nightfall and the terrible escalation of the demon's assault. If that's your cuppa tea, go check it out. Final Girl's reviews are here and here, with a less-gushing one by Flick Filosopher.
The other thing I took away from the movie is the characterization of Micah and Katie, the doomed couple who find their suburban San Diego home under siege. Micah is one of those take-charge alpha male idiots who sees the supernatural siege as something he treat like a home-improvement project. He constantly shines on and ignores poor haunted Katie and refuses to accept help or treat the threat with any degree of caution or respect. He's basically the pushy jerk in every slasher film that dies the most horribly, only fleshed out and broadened into a real character. Our sympathy really lies with poor Katie, torn between a jerky boyfriend and a menacing spirit. Perhaps she courts her doom by not being assertive enough, but they're both people I can believe in. That's the kind of stuff I like: characters that exist as something other than knife-bait.
Go check it out, as it's probably one of the most important American horror films of the last few years. While you're at it, wish me a speedy recovery from this miserable ear infection. Also, for the record, I liked the theatrical ending more than the alternate DVD ending.