Well, to everyone who said lightning couldn't strike twice with a concept as simple as THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and make $100 mill plus at the box office...you stand corrected! Not only did it happen again with another camcorder lensed "reality" movie with supernatural overtones, it almost ups the ante in laziness. They didn't even have to trek out into the woods to make this baby, director Oren Peli stages the whole thing in his own house (!), like it's BLAIR WITCH: THE COUCH POTATO VERSION.
Two main actors. Two extra actors. An alleged $10k budget. Storyline as simple as simple gets: Katie feels that she's being haunted by some sort of demon or poltergeist entity. Strange sounds abound. Scratching. Thumps. Lights on and off. Footsteps. Water spigots left off turn themselves on...That sort of thing.
New beau Micah wants to tape the strange occurrences, so he begins following Katie around with his videocamera, leaving it on in a wide shot in their bedroom as they sleep. Maybe they'll see something...
The actors (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) play their parts well. I could mostly buy that Katie really felt that an entity of some sort has been "stalking" her since she was 8-years-old. Micah's skepticism was genuine and probably what most viewers were feeling at first...until he crosses the line and brings an unwanted Ouija board into the house...making things much, much, much worse...
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT wasn't a bad little flick. (Did Josh ever find his smokes? I do remember some parts of it that seemed annoying!) And honestly, I liked PARANORMAL ACTIVITY a little better. What seems like a hokey premise actually works, and director Peli manages to generate some good moments of genuine suspense, dread, and creepiness. Much like in the Robert Wise version of THE HAUNTING, it's what you DON'T see that makes the events in your mind even more magnified. It's those crazy sound effects...the flick of a light switch...the heavy thunking of boots on the floor...a door slamming shut...the quivering fear in the voices of the actors...the swinging chandelier when something UNSEEN wisps by...someTHING big, too!
My favorite sequence is where something invisible obviously races through the house and the couple trace the unseen thing into an open attic door...definitely very eerie, something we can all relate to as far as things that go "bump" in the night. You hear a noise...wake up and look around...find a door or closet open...and really struggle to remember..."Did I open that door? Was it closed when I went to bed? IS SOMEONE ELSE IN THE HOUSE?" Genuine fears we all have at one time or another, and this flick really taps into those emotions here and there.
So yes, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY is a worthy look, even on video. Put the lights down low, have an open mind and no preconceptions...and roll with it. It's not a bad ride at all. Even if it did cost next to nothing to produce and is probably the envy of every struggling microbudget moviemaker out there STILL trying to make their mark.
And for the record, I thought the "Hollywood Theatrical" ending played better (as far as goose bumps and jumps!) than the original no-budget ending. But you can choose your pleasure- both are available to see on the DVD for comparison. Fun stuff, all around!