A suburban couple mess with dark spirits in the effective low budget chiller, Paranormal Activity.
Like all great horror movies, there is a story behind the scenes which proves to be just as fascinating as the movie itself.
Made with a budget of $11,000 by aspiring filmmaker Oren Peli (his house is used in the film), Paranormal Activity was originally completed and set for release in 2007, only to fall in the hands of one Steven Spielberg, whose enthusiastic response and filmmaking advice saw additional scenes and effects added, and the film pushed with an effective marketing campaign.
$100,000,000 at the box office later and you have a hit of paranormal proportions.
A plot thin story features well to do couple Katie (Katie Featherson) and Micah (Micah Sloat) haunted by a pesky poltergeist which has haunted Katie since she was a child.
Alpha male Micah (oh, and how much of an ass he is) does away with all advice and friendly caution (including that from a psychic), and decides to find out for himself what is going on, by documenting the increasingly sinister behaviour of their resident spook.
In turn, what is presented is a mockumentary akin to the ground breaking Blair Witch Project. But rather than having to deal with the shaky hysterics of the latter, Peli has wisely opted to capture the carnage with single frame shots, staged mostly at night, and with the assistance of some fine sound effects and reactionary acting by its two leads.
While the trend is to rubbish the likes of these hand held thrillers, what is undeniable is that for the most part they work very well, with Paranormal Activity on par with sub-genre leaders [Rec] and the before mentioned Blair Witch Project.
Although it can feel repetitive in its structure, Paranormal Activity is buoyed by its bevy of truly chilling scares, that will have many gripping their arm rests with dear life. Its depiction of a couple who must contend with things go bump in the night will not only haunt the soul upon completion, but will also make viewers appreciate the power of a good ghost story.
But perhaps more importantly, its critical and commercial success hammers a nail in the coffin of the torture porn trend which has infected the horror genre.
One worth watching if sleep is of minimal use to you.