Friday, 30 October 2009

Paranormal Activity - Dir. Oren Peli

Oren Peli’s ‘Paranormal Activity’ isn’t a brilliant film by any standards, nor is it groundbreaking, but considering it was made for only fifteen-thousand dollars and it has now grossed over thirty-five million dollars in the US before it has even been released worldwide definitely shows that it has appeal and the subject matter to tap into the general public’s imagination – the issue of unseen paranormal activity that we have all apparently experienced at some time or another, but never been able to conclusively prove that it wasn’t simply the ice-maker! While ‘PA’ also taps into the sub-conscious fear of that our homes are our fortresses, however in Peli’s film, the home is anything, but a safe haven. Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) are your typical young, suburban couple, however Katie believes that there is a paranormal presence praying on herself or the house in which she and her fiancée are staying, so Micah does what any young-buck would do in this technological age in which we live; we sets up a cheap video-camera in the bedroom and hopes to capture the ghoulish goings-on during the night – and it certainly isn’t the dishwasher that’s on the fritz!

At around eighty-odd-minutes in length the film follows a simple three-part narrative structure. The first third of the film is focused around introducing Micah and Katie to the audience as they discuss what could be going bump in the night and their general lives, work, friends, etc. We also see the conflict in personalities from the beginning as well, as Micah is somewhat of a sceptic, he is always making fun of Katie and the presence which is clearly taking a toll on her life, while Katie outwardly accepts that there is some form of paranormal activity around her or her house and wishes to get rid, or banish it as soon as possible. From there on as each night passes, the second part of the structure focuses around Micah and the various small unexplained noises and movements that were captured on camera, slowly dispelling his scepticism and fuelling Katie’s increasing paranoia, before the final third of the film completely puts to rest any scepticism Micah has and sends Katie into a detrimental spiral of fear and instability, concluding the film with a brilliantly terrifying bang!

The use of Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat work perfectly, as the unknown, inexperienced actors that provide somewhat of a refreshing realistic quality to the low-budget flick. While the use of on and off-screen diegetic sound and movement, especially while the characters are sleeping, creates the perfect atmosphere for the unexplained goings-on in the suburban homestead. We can see everything that is happening, every small sound, or every slight movement, however while the audience can rest behind the protection of the movie screen, there is no such barrier for Katie and Micah which constantly raises and the suspense, tension and fear-factor throughout the film. Peli and his small crew, show how much you can simply evolve forth the narrative from such minimal and surprisingly fear-inducing events, such as slamming doors shut and banging loudly on various walls.

‘Paranormal Activity’ is one of those rare films that will still stay with you hours after you have already left the cinema. It sets up the bases – character development, captured unexplained activity, and the history of said such activity – before finally winding back the bat and knocking the audience of the park with a well-shot, emphatic and truly frightening ending.
blog comments powered by Disqus