Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Frederichs
Directed by Oren Peli
Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment
I’ve been waiting a long time to write this review. A REALLY long time. Since 10/07/2007 to be exact. That was the first time we were exposed to the goodness that is Paranormal Activity, and I’m happy to say we were the ones who wrote the first ever Paranormal Activity review (here). It sure has been a long road to distribution, and while on it the film went through many revisions. Many endings. You name it. When it finally came out, it exceeded expectations. It broke records. And, most importantly, it scared the shit out of the majority of the country. Sometimes it feels really good to be validated. Now Paramount Home Entertainment has brought the little flick that could home to Blu-ray and DVD in a … well … in a really bittersweet package.
For those of you who don’t know the story, Katie (Featherston) is a very troubled young woman. Throughout her life she’s been haunted by an unseen entity. Still, as with most bad things we all have to face, she has learned to deal with it and move on. In fact, everything was going pretty sweet for her until she moved in with her boyfriend Micah (Sloat). Instead of ignoring these things like Katie does, Micah wants to explore them. Film them. Goad them on to the point of being an absolute antagonist. This is something you just shouldn’t do. Before you know it, what starts as a few mischievous things here and there ends up turning very bad and very holy-shit-somebody-put-on-a-fucking-nightlight scary.
Let me stress this … Paranormal Activity is not a haunted house movie. Our couple cannot just leave the structure and move on. This is a haunted person movie. Wherever Katie goes, these demons go with her, and that makes for a pretty compelling movie. However, it’s also a film that’s not for everyone. If you’re looking for big budget, mile a minute attempts at trickery, gore, or jump scares, you’re likely to hate this flick. Paranormal Activity preys upon your most primal fears like what’s going on around you while you’re sleeping and totally helpless, and in that respect it’s damned effective. This is pure minimalist horror at its finest.
For a cinéma-vérité film to work, the actors populating the space cannot hit a single false note. If they do, the entire experience will be ruined. Katie and Micah are 110% believable. In fact it’s pretty hard to believe that they’re not a couple. Their performances, coupled with director Oren Peli’s deliberate pacing, make for a truly chilling movie that will stay with you long after you’ve watched it and are lying in bed late at night. Every single noise or creak your house makes during the wee hours will have you squirming and grabbing either your pillow or the person next to you. Really effective stuff.
The main differences between the available DVD(s) and the Blu-ray come in the form of picture and sound quality. In this particular case, though, you’re pretty good with either package. They’re totally comparable. The sound mix is nothing short of stunning and is home to the majority of the film’s punch, and being that this is a shot-on-the-spot found footage film, while the Blu-ray’s image is a bit deeper and sharper, it’s not like you’re going to be missing much in standard def. The only thing unique to the Blu-ray is the standard definition digital copy of the theatrical version of the film.
So now let’s get to the goods, shall we? There aren’t any. That’s right, nothing. Not a trailer, not a featurette, not a commentary, nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nil. Donut Land. Really, Paramount? The movie makes over one hundred million dollars at the box office, and this is what we get on the first home video release? Why not just hang up a sign that reads, “Don’t worry! A Proper Edition Will Be Coming in the Future”? Of course I could be wrong about that, but my instincts tell me otherwise.
So, what is here? You get two versions of the movie — the theatrical cut and the unrated cut with an alternate ending. I’ve seen just about every ending this movie has had, and lord knows there have been several. I’m so happy to say that my favorite one has been included here, and it’s nothing short of an absolute punch to the jaw. So happy to see it again! I’m thinking it’s gonna be the clear favorite over the Spielberg Ending shown in theatres. This inclusion truly kicks ass but is sadly all she wrote.
Paranormal Activity is a movie best enjoyed at home with the lights out and the sound up. Way up. If you can weed through all the hype surrounding it, you’re likely to love every second. If you’re one of those people who are going into it dead-set on not being scared, then you’re already killing it for yourself. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, man. It’s one of the spookiest you’re bound to take for a good long while.
4 1/2 out of 5
1/2 out of 5
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