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Annette Kellerman survives PARANORMAL ACTIVITY at Fantastic Fest!!

Annette Kellerman here with my take on a much talked about film here at Fantastic Fest... PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Now, it's been a long time since I read Moriarty's review of this film a year or so back, and I have seen all of the recent blurbs proclaiming this film as one of the scariest in a long time. Despite all the hype, however, I was somehow able to go into this movie knowing very little other than its premise of a haunting told with found footage. As not only a geek for film but also for the craft itself, I've always been fascinated by the found footage idea for independent film makers. Since the found footage angle explains the lower budget medium from the get-go, clever storytelling paired with some good performances and decent cinematography is really all a director needs to deliver a great movie. LIke you're probably wondering right now, I too feared that the film might just be another BLAIR WITCH PROJECT in a different setting, but fortunately it seems that the filmmakers behind PARANORMAL ACTIVITY took a lesson from BWP and improved upon the basic idea by leaps and bounds. Though the film begins with the obligatory text-on-screen explanation of the footage and foreshadows by letting us know that the families have allowed the studio to edit said footage into "the film you are about to see", for me this cliche of the genre is still very effective and propelled me into the vibe of the story, squelching any further comparisons to its predecessors. In case you're not familiar with the plot, the story picks up at a point when the boyfriend of a young couple has purchased a new, fancy camera on which he hopes to document some of the weirdness that has been going on at night while the pair sleeps. Through surprisingly natural yet explanatory dialogue we learn about some of the creepy albeit harmless events such as water faucets and lights turning on by themselves in addition to the sounds of footsteps and scratching coming from different areas of the house. While MIcah, our camera boy, seems to be more curious and unconcerned with the situation, his girlfriend Katie is obviously taking matters a bit more seriously- even initially employing the services of a haunting specialist who further helps set up the story by explaining to them (and cleverly, the audience) more about the phenomena. Through Katie's interview with the specialist, we also learn that she has had similar experiences in the past which indicates that the situation isn't tied to their location, but to Katie herself. Building the creepiness quotient, Katie also learns that the characteristics of the activities do not resemble those of a ghost, but a demon. In an attempt to get to the bottom of the situation himself, Micah sets up the camera in their bedroom to capture what goes on while they sleep in hopes of ultimately ridding the couple of the disturbances. For some reason, just the sight of the sleeping couple with the running time ticking away is eerie, but soon enough the the fun really begins. Of course, I don't want to give away any more of this film because the simplicity and fear of the unknown is what really sells it- and ultimately that is what I really love about the movie. Oh, and it completely scared the shit out of me. With seemingly little effort employing tried and true tricks of the genre, director Oren Peli aptly brings on the spooky by building and building the tension until even the most benign occurrences send shivers down your spine. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY perfectly illustrates that an age old formula presented in a fresh and innovative way still works whether you have a studio-sized budget or an HD camera, a few friends, and some clever, but simple effects. If you want to truly get into the Halloween spirit this year, skip the slashers and check out this film instead. Well, I'm off to see more movies, but I hope to check in again later with more from this year's Fantastic Film Festival. Until then, Annette Kellerman


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  • Sept. 28, 2009, 4:27 a.m. CST

    BIG LOB

    by GibsonUSA Returns

    He aint afraid a no ghost.

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 4:33 a.m. CST

    BIG LOB has a question: So the ghost follows the girl?

    by GibsonUSA Returns

    BIG LOB wants to know:<BR> What if a ghost was following a girl that happened to be an astronaut? Does the ghost follow the girl up to the space station?<BR><BR> What is the ghost...bored or something?...following up to a space station...<BR><BR> Now, let's say the girl does not survive in space...does the ghost stay in space...or does it make its way back down to earth? <BR>How would it get back to earth? It knows how to operate lightswitches and faucets (for some reason), but can it fly a space shuttle? <BR><BR> BIG LOB wants to know. Please provide answers.

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 4:58 a.m. CST

    I didn't mention this previously but as Annette let the cat

    by white_vader

    out of the bag, the "following" thing was one of my favourite bits (big lob silliness and first posting shenanigans aside). <p> It's super clever that the demon/ghost/boogeyman is tied to the girl rather than the house, because while the oldschool scares are very Poltergeist-y, you don't get the escape of just leaving the house and everything being allright - there's NO escape for the poor girl because this thing is tied to HER. So, cool story point, and cool plot mechanism to ratchet up the suspense even more, because every time things escalate, you know she can't just shut the door behind her and be done with it. Loved it!

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 5 a.m. CST

    That reminds me Gibson...

    by white_vader

    Didn't you have a hamster that died in unusual (ahem) circumstances? I vaguely remember some thread that went very pear-shaped a coupla years ago or something...

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 5:35 a.m. CST

    ENOUGH ALREADY! Wake up people! AICN is on PARAMOUNT'S PAYROLL

    by Shakes The Clown

    ENOUGH ALREADY! Wake up people! AICN is on PARAMOUNT'S PAYROLL. It's a fact. Ask around. Why do you think they hyped up crappy GI.JOE and now PARANORMAL ACTIVITY so much? AICN are not geeks fighting the system. They are the system.

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 5:38 a.m. CST

    Beejesus !

    by dude_gimme_tabs

    I have a copy of this movie that I "obtained" (legally-ish) a little while ago. I watched the movie on my own in the house late at night, under the influence of some really good wine.<p> I am a 34 year old male and I had to sleep with the damned light on! This scared the beejesus out of me.<p> See it!

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 7:18 a.m. CST

    Saw a screening if this Saturday

    by scudd

    I really enjoyed it, and the packed house got really into it. If you let yourself buy into the premise, this will be the scariest movie you will have seen in years.

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 7:30 a.m. CST

    Saw it Friday night.

    by HorrorFan81

    It wasn't the scariest movie I've ever seen. I wasn't scared or terrified. But the film was damned creepy. And it did spook me a little. Overall, I did really enjoy it, and want to see it again ASAP.<p> I think this film should be recommended for everyone, especially horror fans. However, the film is gonna receive a major backlash, like Blair Witch and Open Water, because of all the hyperbole surrounding it.

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 8:24 a.m. CST

    HorrorFan, the backlash has already begun!

    by white_vader

    Look at Shakes' post, and all the plant crying naysayers who haven't even seen it yet in every other P.A. thread so far. <p> When they grow up they're all going to join the Catholic League of Decency or whatever they're called.

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 8:28 a.m. CST

    Speaking of scary/tense/nailbiting films...

    by white_vader

    I watched Man on Wire last night. Holy Shit that thing made me queasy (both from the stress of the 'heist' stuff AND the vertigo stuff) and I was sitting on the bloody lounge! Not what I expected from ostensibly a documentary!

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 10:02 a.m. CST

    I cannot wait to see this!!

    by SpawnofAchilles

    Please bring it to Philly! (I already did the website deal, but anyone else in the Philly area, request it, we are 9th out of 10 on the damn list! What is that shit? Represent!)

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 2:53 p.m. CST

    Saw it Sat night

    by gavdiggity

    A full house at the Neptune midnight showing. It was pretty obvious the people there had very little clue what this was about (including some jackass who brought two little girls who couldn't have been more than ten years old). <P> I heard a couple of girls talking about staying over at each others' house 'cause they were afraid to go home alone. My girlfriend was up until 5 in the morning. It rally is unsettling... I don't think I've ever actually heard an audience whimper with tension before.<P> I understand there will be people pissing on this movie as a Blair Witch ripoff (many of whom will do so without actually seeing the fucking thing), but it's much more suspenseful throughout the whole movie than Blair Witch was.

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Can't there be a movie where the footage was delivered, not foun

    by MrMysteryGuest

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 3:12 p.m. CST

    d?

    by MrMysteryGuest

  • Sept. 28, 2009, 4:57 p.m. CST

    sounds kinky

    by Pooter the Clown

    "the boyfriend of a young couple has purchased a new, fancy camera on which he hopes to document some of the weirdness that has been going on at night while the pair sleeps."

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 3:02 a.m. CST

    Well?

    by knucks

    how'd it go with the 5 year old twins at paranormal activity? are they scared for life? my wife made us go to sleep with the light on after seeing it. i wasn't that scared, but if i were 5 and saw it, i'm pretty sure i'd never go to sleep again.

  • Oct. 18, 2009, 4:03 a.m. CST

    This movie was NOT scary at all.

    by GibsonUSA Returns

  • Oct. 21, 2009, 10:38 a.m. CST

    I have lost faith in Humanity..............

    by movienutz

    to all the people who think this is scary - Go watch "Ghost Hunters" with Jason & Grant on A&E. It's about the same quality of ghost sightings, yet less boring. This is a cheap, inferior knock-off on "Blair Witch". And I wish people would stop encouraging this "home video" style. If this was a High School film project (which it sure does look like) I would say "not bad." I find it hard to believe that a MAJOR studio is backing this - an amateur video by a first-time director, starring first-time actors? Someone high up must be getting blackmailed.

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