In your San Diego neighborhood,
Who you gonna call?
Manhattan has the Ghostbusters, and the Diego has Dr. Fredrichs.
Only thing is, instead of showing up with a boss proton pack and a wise-cracking Bill Murray, Dr. Fredrichs shows up to his ghostly-house calls with a tacky sweater and a desire to talk about feelings. Bleck! Where is Slimmer when you need him!
But, Fredrichs does his best to help haunted-home renters Katie and Micah with their poltergeist problem in this week’s flick, Paranormal Activity. At least until he wets himself with fear and runs like a Frenchman.
Katie and Micah are a young couple who just moved into a San Diego home together. Playing house was going great for the two, until Katie's dark, demonic secret came to light. Ever since she was a little girl, Katie has been followed by ghosts… one ghost actually. It liked to watch her while she slept, creepily whisper into her ear, and sometimes yank her covers at night… you know, like Nick used to do repeatedly in the girls dorms at Western Michigan University. How did you think he met Mel?
Since it is hard to place a court order on a spirit, Katie just kind of accepted this mild, creepy annoyance as a “well, what are ya gonna do” factor in her life.
After moving in with Micah, the d-bag “day trader” (need we say more about his assy character) becomes fascinated by his girlfriend's personal Casper, and buys a video camera to try and record some paranormal activity.
His favorite ghost hunting move is to set up the camera in their bedroom with the hope of filming things that go bump in the night (he’d like to catch a spirit on tape as well.) He lets the camera run all night, then reviews the footage.
Chris Dimick demon-snorts:
Warning, soapbox alert!For once! A modern film was scary!
I can’t believe I’m giving this a 4.0 – it really shouldn't deserve it, for several reasons. Our lead characters Micah and Katie were played by awful, AWFUL actors whose improvising seemed rushed, forced and unnatural. Micah is one of the biggest d-bags I have ever seen on the screen, doing things and making claims only an idiot would do in a similar haunting situation. Half way through the movie I wanted these two to be slayed by their ghostly friend… but in a way that was freeing. Since I no longer cared about these two, I could instead cheer on the demon, who slowly stalked our bumbling lovers. Gotta love it when you root for the bad guy!
For example, there are scenes captured by Micah’s camera that just would never be taped in the real world. At one point, Katie and Micah have a huge fight about what is happening, how Micah keeps filming, and how she just wants the camera off. That camera would be off. In another, Micah wakes up to find Katie has wandered out of bed and disappeared. If you realized your possibly possessed girlfriend had wandered out of bed in the middle of the night, and seemly disappeared out of the house, would you really steadily control the camera around each part of the house calling your lady’s name. Hell no, you’d be tearing ass all over the place trying to find her… WITHOUT THE CAMERA!
But, some suspension of disbelief is required with all movies… and I’ll grant the first-person style film this free pass if what is going on on-screen makes it worth playing dumb. And Paranormal indeed earned its pass, but not for what happened on screen. It won my praise for what it didn’t show. Much of the “action” occurs off-screen, or is done is such a subtle way that it requires the viewer's imagination to fill in the terror. The key to a great horror movie is to, paraphrasing Steven Spielberg, "not show too much of the shark, because it will eventually look fake.”
So okay Paranormal, let's summarize: You had horrible acting, your first-person style is flawed and a rip off (I liked this movie better the first time I saw it when it was called The Blair Witch Project), and you are a product of a section of pop culture I detest. But you know what, you had me smiling for an hour and a half after a hard day at work. And I had bad dreams about you that night.
Bravo sir, you earned your 4.0, warts and all."
Nick Rich demon-snorts:
"Paranormal Activity was just plain fun. It didn't show me anything I had never seen before, nor did it give me a life-altering experience... it was just plain fun.
Sure other movies had done the whole 'realism' kick before, and sure other movies had done the whole 'haunting' thing before - but frankly, while I was watching Paranormal Activity I didn't care. It gave me exactly what I was looking for in a movie of its kind: tension.
Now I'm not the kind who frightens easily when partaking of the cinematic arts, so it is extremely rare for a movie to downright scare me. Usually the most I can hope for is a nice bubbling stew of tension that keeps turning up the heat until it eventually boils over - which Paranormal does in spades (David or shovel, take your pick).
Did I miss anything in that scene?
Was that shadow moving?
What will these ridiculous people do next?
Although never fully scared, the film instilled in me an almost constant state of anticipation as the story progressed in a predictable, yet enjoyable fashion. I found myself analyzing each scene in great detail to see if I could spot evidence of spooktacular activity. I was engaged as a viewer, sharing the mission of the characters to eek out any evidence I could of unearthly stirrings - which made this film a ball to watch. Then of course there were the delicious moments of genuine tension... having a sense of what was coming next, but not knowing exactly how it would be executed or when... Paranormal walked that fine line of making the audience wait just long enough to reveal itself (a highly coveted quality in a horror flick).
Paranormal Activity, thank you. You certainly were what you claimed to be, and I hope more movies like you are made (not verbatim mind you, but with the same execution and intent). I even hope more people check you out and enjoy you as much as I did. While you are by no means a work of art or will enrich my life beyond the hour and a half we shared together, your company allowed my mind to roam free on a day where it was repressingly full... and for that, your companionship was most welcome. Who knew having a demon gunning for you could be so relaxing?
The Skinny: Check this flick out if you feel like cuddling with your lady/man or are too cheap to buy the Idiot's Guide: How To Anger A Demon."
Things We Learned from Paranormal Activity:
-Use opened junk mail to safely move spiders outdoors.
-Don't provoke a demon.
-Ghosts don't like humans having relations.
-Girlfriends hate being filmed with a camcorder, especially in the morning.
-In San Diego, people eat on the same side of the table at home.
-Fridge ice makers totally sound like a ghost.
-Married people don't sleep "spooning."
-Demons sleep during the day.
-Baby powder sprinkled on the floor is "beautiful."
The Gaslamp Quarter
After 2 a.m., you can hear crying, yells and screams of the stumbling damned! Watch, as many projectile spew their ectoplasmic innards into various alleys.
Many a night has been chilled by the echos of "giiiiirrrrllll!" and "hhhheeeeeyyyy!" long after the local bars in this gay friendly neighborhood close their doors.
Things Your Girl/Boyfriend Should Tell You Before Moving In
As Katie's personal demon begins stepping up his scares, live-in-boyfriend Micah tells her it would have been nice if she'd divulged her possession before moving in with him. Not on the first date mind you, but "at least by date 30!" Here we explore other skeletons your significant other should release from their closet before putting their stuff in yours.
You know how I said I went to college for six years. Small correction... substitute college for prison and six years for murder.
My inbred cousin and his six feral children traditionally stay with me for the holidays. Which holidays? Oh, all of them.
I never miss an episode of The Tonight Show.
September 23 marks eight years since I was cured at "People Can Change" camp! Wanna celebrate in Boystown?
My real name is Jim Hoffa IV, but don't go spreading that around New Jersey!
Bread, pasta, veggies, eggs, fruit and water give me horrifically stank night gas.
Ummm, there is a reason you've never seen me with my pants off.
Things NOT to do When
There is a Demon in Your House