The online home of Toby Wilkinson

Film Review: Paranormal Activity

I sat down to watch this late on Saturday evening, and I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. Having just been watching Most Haunted, I think I was expecting more of the same, rather twee and fake spookiness. What I got instead was probably the most disturbing film I’ve seen for a long time, if not ever.

Two days later I’ve still not decided if I actually think it was any good, which seems a little indecisive of me following the last paragraph, but I still have mixed feelings. On the one hand it built a sense of foreboding superbly. It’s filmed in the style of someone’s video diary, covering their investigation into things going bump in the night, the style is reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project (but done much better). To start with there are slight rumblings and small things twitching. As the film progresses, manifestations get more and more physical. The female character being dragged out of bed and then down the hall screaming becomes horrific and genuinely terrifying. The film stayed with me far longer than any other has for a long time.

While the sense of dread was done very well, I must confess that I found it a little flat that nothing else really happened. Unlike most horror films, there was no let up, very little development of the characters and while the details of the events were impressively shocking, the general pattern held few surprises – once you’d seen them woken at 3am for the third scene in a row, it got a lot less surprising when the clock slowed down the next night. I actually felt myself becoming bored by the relentless building of tension, wishing the director would take a break, have an optimistic scene before returning to the tension.

So would I recommend it? Certainly! If you like horror films then you should see this. What it sets out to do, it does superbly, and worth seeing just to see how well a good film maker can scare you. However don’t expect too much in the way of plot…