Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007). Director: Orin Peli.

This movie is another illustration of H. L. Mencken's maxim [which I paraphrase] "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence and taste of the American public."

Katie (Katie Featherston) and boyfriend Micah [Micah Sloat, pictured] have problems with a ghost or poltergeist who has been following Katie around since childhood, and now seems to have taken up residence in the attic of their home. The "stunt" of this very cheap [if not necessarily cheap-looking] movie is that the footage consists solely [for the most part] of everything that Micah shot with his new video camera. To be absolutely fair, some of the movie is a little bit creepy, but by and large it's rather dull, amateurishly if earnestly acted, and it all might have been far more compelling if shot in a more traditional fashion. Obviously, this was an attempt -- which succeeded -- to recreate the success of such other stunt movies as The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, of which the latter was the most ambitious and successful. Another problem with the movie is the script, which doesn't proceed in a logical course. Apparently some young people believed that Katie and Micah [the actors' real names are used, confusing the issue] really had ghost problems and that this footage is real. [The "alternate" ending on the DVD should have cleared up that misconception, but who knows?] Sloat and Featherston may find themselves in the same career boat as the casts of Blair Witch and Cloverfield, although a sequel is in the works. This movie betrays not a bit of cinematic no-how or artistry.

Verdict: Play with a ouija board instead. **.

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