It is like Blair Witch Experience some ten years ago, filmed with little money (less than 15.000 dollars, it is said), supposed to make you believe this is not a movie but a real document belonging to the police. Blair Witch was among the first to have the idea, it was not really that scaring but why not, who knows ?
I didn't felt reassured when I started watching it, the cover saying the whole press had reviewed it as purely terrifying. It was night and I was alone, and someone had put a toy playing « happy birthday to you » in the floor garbage can where I live, this with the blinking neon light in the corridor being really creepy. (Yes I am impressionable, so what)
This is a movie relying on the « the less you see and understand, the most you are scared » principle, and these movies can be terrifying.
I had nothing else to watch, so I began the Paranormal Activity experience.
We can't see it, we are told there is a demon. By a kind of paranormal expert who is so impressed that after a first appearance he decides to flee the house. He was such a bad actor this was rather good news.
But unfortunately they are all bad actors, and the others don't flee. They stay and act illogically. You never believe a second in their behaviour.
The demon does nothing in the day. There is a lot of day sequences during which you quickly understand nothing will happen. Except empty dialogues badly acted.
The demon manifests itself at night.
We see its manifestations in the young couple room. It is convenient, the frame of the screen is centred on the couple’s bed and the open door of their room. So you know where to watch: the open door.
And the camcorder recordings are fast-forwarded when nothings happens. When something happens, you see the clock of the recorder going back normal speed. So you know when something is gonna happen : watch the clock.
In a word, there is never a surprise, never tension.
At some point, it becomes fascinating how boring it is. You wait for the next appearance of the demon. It seems to have nothing much to do as well. So you and the demon being bored, you try to interpret its behaviour. What is the demon doing exactly ? Seems it is sometimes hungry at night, and has a look in the fridge, probably looking for a yoghurt. It is a bit clumsy and makes a lot of noise. It likes climbing stairs. It probably wants to remain fit. Sometimes it goes in the bathroom (to drop a shit ?)
It lets footprints. Kind of bird footprints. Yes, at some point, the boyfriend puts flour on the floor. And we see footprints. This is when we understand, since the size, that it must be some kind of ostrich. Or an emu ? No idea. There was no egg. Or maybe an invisible egg. Sounds logical for an invisible ostrich. Is there a difference between ostrich eggs and emu eggs, by the way ? But there is no talk of an egg in the movie. This is only the outcome of my profound and fascinating thoughts watching it. Yes : the big difficulty with this movie is to keep one’s mind occupied, since almost nothing happens on screen or in the soundtrack.
So, for the watcher, fear gives place to a big smile, and it is quickly difficult to restrain from laughing.
At the end, the demon woke up, probably realizing how much the actors were bad and it killed one of them. But it was too late. The other actor was too bored himself to be scared, like the spectator.
The only good thing was that it meant the end of the movie.
I am happy for Oren Peli, the guy at the origin of this project, and who has earned so much money out of nothing. As a director, I think his big flaw is that he is unable to hide there was a directing in the movie. I mean I never believed it was an amateur document, it didn't work on me.
I am more worried for Spielberg. Has he turned cynical to an incredible level, or is he totally senile ?
There is going to be a Paranormal Activity 2. Wooohoooo !.