Ah yes, found footage horror. Ever since The Blair Witch Project, it has become quite the phenomenon, with a few cropping up each year but while most seem to fall flat, everyone seems to hold a special place in their hearts for the Paranormal Activity series. Why, though?
It is easy to ‘disconnect’ from horror as there is normally a clear separation between reality and fiction. Even with The Blair Witch Project it is quite easy to just make sure you aren’t going camping around the time that you go see it. But in 2007 Oren Peli masterminded a plan to bring our worst fears to life but putting the frights right in the middle of what we hold the most dear, our homes, which is what makes Paranormal Activity and all its sequels (which I will still discuss with you at some point in the future) such an effective horror film.
Without relying on gore, the film exploits our fear of things that go bump in the night by making something more sinister than any of us could have expected, and by seeing a seemingly real couple experience these terrors we are challenged to go to bed that night without having to sleep with one eye open… and it is a challenge most of us will or have failed.
Paranormal Activity, for those of you who haven’t seen it, shows us the ‘found footage’ taken in the home of Katie and Micah, a young couple living in San Diego. As they start becoming aware of strange occurrences around the house, Katie tells a sceptical Micah that she has been haunted since childhood and that she is sure there is an evil presence that is following her around the house. At this point I fully expected Micah to run for the hills, but as he’s a stronger man than I (and also fictional… Lourens 1, Micah 0) he decides to put her mind to ease by setting up a video camera in their room to film them while they sleep. This is where things get even more terrifying, as the couple realises that something particularly terrifying is happening in their house and that they might need some help getting rid of whatever it is that is tormenting them in their own home.
The mere fact that I got goosebumps just writing that should tell you that this is definitely one for Holloween season, especially if you are one of the few people who have never seen it before. Watch out for all the alternate endings though, as Hollywood decided to get their grubby paws all over the film, but it does mean that you have your pick of how you prefer the film to end. All I know is, I’ve been sending Oren Peli my therapist’s bill on a monthly basis and still nothing.
Last Updated: September 27, 2013