By on November 10th, 2010


Dir. Oren Peli
Cast: Katie Featherstone, Micah Sloat
Writer: Oren Peli

Things go bump in the night… on tape.

Functions effectively as a scary film but is not a “Horror Movie” in the Hollywood sense. Does not attempt to provoke a reaction from the viewer, refusing to sign-post the scare.

In using a video camera to record the event, the unconventional method makes good use of its’ semi-conventional means, simultaneously distancing the viewer from the viewed and dissolving the wall of illusion more theatrical productions often hinge upon.

Inviting us to share the events caught on camera, Oren Peli displays the faith he has in his screenplay to unsettle the audience, refusing to revert to visual or audio prompts to solicit any cheap shocks.

The majority of the frightening here is done quietly, delicately, under the skin and behind the eyes.

It didn’t make me jump, it unsettled me. Enough to watch it in my living room with the lights on (the Wife’s idea), followed by a viewing of Pixar’s The Incredibles immediately after to end the evening on a more pleasant note.

Paranormal Activity is just that, it is unpleasant. It is this unpleasantness that sets it apart from most other ‘Scary Movies’ I’ve seen, with The Blair Witch Project being the obvious exception.

For this reason Paranormal Activity joins The Shining, The Omen and The Blair Witch Project on the list of films that freaked me out.

It is unsettling, and worth coming out of your comfort zone for, though as my friend keeps reminding me, “it’s not real”, despite what the so-called ‘over-hyped cult marketing machine’ would have you believe.

The strange thing about P.A. is that it is not a very scary film to watch, mainly because nothing much happens, it’s unsettling more than anything else and it comes alive when the credits have rolled and you are in the comfort and safety of your own head.

Paranormal Activity 2 is in cinemas now and I’ll be making it my Midweek Movie Ritual… Soon.


  1. 1 Novroz
    November 10th, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Great review as always Ronan.
    I didn’t like Paranormal Activity as much as evryone else. I watched this alone with the lamp turned off and fastforward the boring part all of the time. Maybe you like to read my comparison on Paranormal and Blairwitch: http://t.co/t3v44Cy

  2. 2 Dan
    November 11th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I liked it but it works better the first time you see it than the second. I do like “lost footage” type films and this is one of the better ones but something like REC or Blair Witch Project has better repeat value I think.

  3. 3 Ronan Wright
    November 12th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    @Dan Hey Dan, thanks for your comment. I’ve only seen it once but I can see what you mean about repeat viewing, I think one of it’s strengths is also one of it’s weaknesses, being it’s unpredictability, when you know what’s coming it detracts a bit from the novelty of the whole ‘weird events caught on camera’ thing. I was talking to a guy in work about this the other day as I went to see P.A.2 on Tuesday evening, he suggested REC as well, I will have to download it at the weekend. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. 4 Ronan Wright
    November 12th, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    @Novroz Hey Novia, thanks for that. I think that is funny that you fast forwarded the parts where nothing happens, I think they call that “building tension” 😉 Thanks for the link, I look forward to reading. P.S. I like the new look of your blog.

  5. 5 Squish
    November 12th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Hey Ronan!

    You used to be a member of the 1001 movies club. I’m bringing it back and wonder if you’d like to join up again. If so, visit the site and send me an email as I’d like to ask you a few questions directly. Also there’s a Blog-A-Thon to kick it up into high gear on November 29th. of course you are invited.

  6. 6 Novroz
    November 13th, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    There’s a name for my fastforwading action? hehe I never knew that. Thanks for letting me know.

    I was wondering, do you believe that ghost really exist?
    I am one of the believers and that’s why my number one horror sub-genre is ghost story.

    P.S. Thank you. I’m looking for the right background picture but it seems that background makes people difficult to read, so I gave up that idea

  7. 7 Julian
    November 13th, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Yeah, i remember this movie being scarier than i expected. Have you had a chance to see the sequel yet?

  8. 8 Squish
    November 14th, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Sorry if I’m re-messaging you, but I just wanted to make sure that since you’re an old member, that you knew that the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Blog Club was back, starting on November 29th with the upcoming Voyage dans la lune Blog-A-Thon!

    You can find the 1001 Club page right here: http://www.filmsquish.com/1001.

    Also, aside from A Trip to The moon on November 29th, we already have our first next assignment, which is going up on Thursday December 2nd: The Passion Of Joan of Arc (1928), and Pather Panchali on December 16th.

    If you would be so kind as to leave me your personal email address, we could communicate much faster, especially around ‘pick the film’ time.


  9. 9 rtm
    November 16th, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Ahahaha… I think I’ll be doing the same thing as you Ronan, I’d try to find a funny and cute movie after watching something disturbing. I’m real curious about this one but not sure I have the nerves to get through it. I think ‘unsettling’ is a fitting description of this… at least it’s not gory like Saw, Hostel, etc.

  10. 10 Ronan Wright
    November 17th, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    @Ruth I saw the sequel in the cinema and it was marginally less unsettling, but it is still creepy enough to warrant a look. The question is Ruth: Can you resist the hype… the wondering…the not knowing? Probably :-) I don’t like Saw and the like, I thought the first one was clever but it is a little too senseless and gratuitously gruesome for my taste. Thanks for the comment.

  11. 11 Ronan Wright
    November 17th, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    @Julian I saw the qequel in the cinema on the final day of it’s release,it was me and four others :-) It was good but knowing what to expect I found myself waiting for what I knew was coming which made the scary bits, when they came, slightly less scary. Still worth a look though.

  12. 12 Ronan Wright
    November 17th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    @Novroz Although I haven’t any personal experience of ghosts, as a Catholic, I do believe in life after death, as well as Angels and Demons and would be reluctant to dismiss the incidents of ‘Paranormal Activity’ too quickly, especially given stories my friends have told me about their own experiences.

  13. 13 Olive
    November 17th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Don’t think I could watch this; it’s just too scary and I avoid all horror films, even the really silly ones. (Not that this is silly!)

  14. 14 rtm
    November 17th, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Hi Ronan… I too believe that ghosts do exist… just like God (light) exists, so then is the opposite of that, which is all that is dark and evil. They can take many manifestations, and possession is one of the most terrifying and terrifyingly real. That’s why I don’t even dare play with ouija board and stuff like that.

  15. 15 Ronan
    November 18th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    @rtm There is a saying that goes: ‘The Devil’s greatest trick was convincing people that he doesn’t exist’. Good is real and tangible and so too is Evil, I’m with you Ruth, I would never mees with a Quija board.

  16. 16 Ronan
    November 18th, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    @Olive The strange thing about P.A. is that it is not a very scary film to watch, mainly because nothing much happens, it’s unsettling more than anything else and it comes alive when the credits have rolled and you are in the comfort and safety of your own head :-)

  17. 17 Novroz
    November 18th, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    @Ruth you never play Quija? it’s similar with jelankung in our country, right? I played it once

    @Ronan Talking about experience with ghost, unfortunately I’ve been there that’ why I believe ghost do exist.

  18. 18 rtm
    November 18th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    @Nov, no I never did and never will. When I was growing up, I remember seeing a group of kids playing jelankung (basically a game to ‘call’ evil spirits) and something went wrong, I think one of them got possessed or something. I personally would rather call on God than the devil.

    @ Ronan, that saying is right, Ronan. Another trick they do is to make people too busy to have a relationship with our Creator.

  19. 19 Julian
    November 18th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I actually liked Saw, although it should have ended at the third movie

    And i’ve never had a experience with a ghost, so i don’t believe they are real. Not saying it isn’t possible, but i’ve never had a experince to imply otherwise

    Although religion has become far less important in my life, so that may have something to do with it

  20. 20 Ronan Wright
    November 19th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    @Julian I agree, I don’t like gratuituous violence for it’s own sake, as a selling point. I saw Let the Right one in last night and although I liked the atmosphere it creates, I didn’t like the excessive gore at the end of the film.

    I’ve never had an experience with a ghost either but I still think they are a reality, but then religion is important in my life so that might have something to do with it as well.

  21. 21 Ronan Wright
    November 19th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    @ I agree Ruth, that is one of the saddest realities of our society today I think, people are too busy for God. Instead of making time for God they try to fill the gap left by an absence of this most essential of relationships with less important things. The word Religion immediately creates a particular impression for people, the word actually means ‘relationship’, so religion is simply, and critically, a personal and communal relationship with God.

  22. 22 Ronan Wright
    November 19th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    @Novia My Granfather always told us from a young age never to mess with the Quija board or anything like it and I too never have and never will.

    What was your experience of Ghosts Nov? If you don’t mind sharing.

  23. 23 Julian
    November 19th, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I didn’t mind the violence in saw, its just the way the third ended felt like it should have been the conclusion of the series. And i don’t feel the violence at the end of Let The Right one(the original, haven’t seen the remake) was at all excessive(especially for a vampire movie).

    And i honestly disagree with the idea that what society needs is more religion. I personally don’t feel people need to believe in god to be moral. There are plenty of people that believe in god that are nasty people, like those people who hold “God hates fags” signs(the fact that there are plenty of people who use religion as a excuse to hate gays is a sadder reality imo). Religion can help someone be a good person, but i don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive.

  24. 24 Ronan
    November 22nd, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    @Julian I can’t argue with what you’ve said Julian, I mean, I could, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I’ve found in my experience the more you try to convince someone that their opinion is wrong or harmful, the more they appear determined to stick to it.

  25. 25 Novroz
    November 27th, 2010 at 9:46 am

    @Ruth and Ronan I played it once out of curiosity, but it didn’t work.

    @Ronan My family has a strong sense of the other world,my nephew often sees one,so does my little brother. I’m blessed not to be able to see them but I can feel them from time to time.

    Just two examples, a student of mine can see them. Once, my students and I were talking about ghost stories and there was a strong presence of something non-human so near to me. I asked that student who can see, she said ‘there is a black creature looking at you and it is sitting right next to you’.
    When I was a kid,I can remember clearly the banging of a door on second floor but when we got upstairs,the door was locked, it started again once we were back in 1st floor.

    My story probably a bit hard to believe because a lot of people don’t believe in ghost.

  26. 26 Ronan Wright
    November 27th, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    @Novia That’s an interesting story Novia, I find it fascinating listenining to other peoples experiences. I have no personal experiences with Ghosts to speak of myself but I’m not the kind of person who has to see something with his own eyes before he believes it.

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