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Belittling Horror Excessively: Paranormal Activity 204:45 PM -- Thu October 27, 2011

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: A family that's really into filming themselves comes home to find their house all trashed. Instead of getting an alarm system, they decide they need cameras in every room (they really like filming themselves). Every room, because entrances wouldn't be sufficient? Eventually, after a very very long time, spooky events ensue, on film.

Scariness Type: Jump scares, jump scares, jump scares. Plus a lot of tension waiting to see what will happen. And waiting, and waiting.

Rating: 3/5 Toy Trains.

Good Stuff: I would say this is the scariest movie I've seen this month. In fact, I had some real problems with my sleep (but I also had caffeine for the only time in months, so who knows the cause?). This is a movie where it forces you to stare closely, searching the screen for the hint of something strange happening, and then when you're focusing so intently BAM! Huge noise that makes all the cats in the room jump up. I've seen the original Paranormal Activity too, and it's cool how this prequel is very strongly intertwined with it, basically expanding the same story. In effect, this movie explains why the first movie happened, but leaves you wondering why this movie happened. The third movie just came out, and I read a review which indicates that it wraps the whole thing up (it's a prequel to this prequel). That's really nice, rather than just random scares. This isn't Friday The 13th Part 2 where Jason goes and kills some different people, this is all one cohesive story.

Bad Stuff: The very primary issue I have with this movie is much worse than the first movie: their obsession with filming everything. The first movie kind of made an issue of it that was unrealistic, but not extreme. The husband was really into his camera, and when they decided they were being haunted, he was dead-set on getting footage of it. It made sense, and there weren't too many scenes where I asked "Why are they filming this?" In this movie, pretty much every scene has you asking that, except when it's security camera footage, when instead you are asking "why did they get cameras instead of an alarm or just calling the cops and making sure they locked their doors from now on?" It seems very contrived. The worst scene for me was when the daughter was sitting and reading a website on her laptop. Her boyfriend films her doing it, for absolutely no reason. When she passes him the laptop to read a passage for himself, he trades her the camera so she can film him doing it. Now that's home movie excitement! I also liked when the daughter would wake up at night because she heard a noise, and she'd use the camera (recording, of course) to light her way as she looked around. Who doesn't do that? Light switches are so inconvenient. These people went through a lot of hard drive space.

Also, much like the first movie, the final supernatural events are very hokey and ridiculous, after all this creepy leadup. Overall, I think the first movie was notably better and scarier, though I don't remember it all that well, so maybe I'm wrong.

Oh, wait, I was wrong about what the primary issue is. I can pretend like I'm suspending my disbelief on all their filming. The real biggest problem with the movie is the waaaaaaaiiiiting. I totally get that the individual scenes need to leave you sitting and staring at nothing for a while so you're shocked when something happens. But did I need to sit through sixteen days of nothing more than maybe a clunking noise happening once or twice, before something dramatic occurs? It's really painful how long it takes for this to get going, and they could've cut out almost all of that leadup. The characters are established in a few scenes, and the rest is just padding. What I honestly think is that the story is just too simple. To get that story told really only takes about fifteen minutes, so they had to pad that out with as much regular home life and tiny little oddities as they could to reach proper movie length. This, I think, is the biggest flaw in the movie. It'd make a much better short, though it would lose impact if you were being hit with freakout after freakout.

Classic Rules Of Film: If you have a hispanic maid, you can bet she knows all about the occult, especially your particular issues. She just does.

My Take: The good and bad pretty much covered it. It's a scary movie, with a ridiculous format, though the format is what makes it feel real and therefore scary. There's really nothing to the movie other than the scares, no character development or interesting plotline, although I confess an interest in seeing the third just to find out how it all happens.

Our next film is Forget Me Not, another ghost story! It's graduation weekend, and people are vanishing, vengeful ghost style.
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