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Paranormal’ brings well-crafted, genuine fright

In the recent years, there has rarely been a film that creatively and effectively utilizes its basic elements to scare an audience.

In fact, recent ‘torture-porn’ labeled horror films do more to gross audiences out rather than instill any level of lasting fear in them. In the case of ‘Paranormal Activity,’ not a single aspect of this film left out of the construction of fear and suspense. If horror is defined as an overwhelming feeling caused by something frightfully terrifying, then ‘Paranormal Activity’ has done everything in it’s power to achieve that sensation.

The story of ‘Paranormal Activity’ is one that features elements you might already be familiar with. Being labeled predominantly as a haunted house tale, the film follows a young couple in their experiences with supernatural happenings in their new home. The young girl named Katie fears there’s a ghost that’s been tormenting her since a young age. Her boyfriend Micah sees it as an opportunity to capture the strange happenings on camera. Armed with a single hand-held camera as the sole source of storytelling, Micah and Katie unravel a terrifying phenomenon that becomes alarmingly dangerous.

With a ‘Blair Witch’-like approach to mockumentary film-making, ‘Paranormal Activity’ is the first horror film to embrace the YouTube generation without losing any credibility or entertainment value. By making the camera just as much a part of the story as the characters, the suspense that arises out of Micah and Katie’s situation feels unnervingly real. Since a viewer’s only relation to a film is what the camera sees, the audience of ‘Paranormal Activity’ is directly involved in the film’s suspense and terror. Like a third character in the story, we sit unknowingly in the corner of the room experiencing all the creepy noises, menacing shadows and eerie oddities that haunt Katie and Micah.

Not only does ‘Paranormal Activity’ brilliantly involve its audience with unique camera use, it also enters the one place audiences might feel safe after watching a scary movie. With Katie and Micah being threatened to the brink of terror under the covers of their own bed, imagine the feeling most of the audience will get as they prepare to sleep after seeing the film. ‘Paranormal Activity’ is one of the few horror movies that has the ability to affect you long after the theater lights rekindle. It’s no question you’ll think twice about things that go bump in the night.

Thanks to director Oren Peli’s unwavering ability to cleverly assemble a successful method to frighten his audience, ‘Paranormal Activity’ easily ranks as one of the most creative fright films in history. Miraculously, he does it all with minimal camera movement and an ultra-low production budget. With definitive proof there’s still creative ways to scare people, let’s hope this brilliant exercise in relentless suspense sparks a terrifying return to the roots of what makes something truly terrifying.’ Letter Grade: A- Rated: Rated R for language. Runtime: 86 min. Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, and Mark Fredrichs Directed by: Oren Peli

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