Paranormal Activity

Evoking memories of The Blair Witch Project, this film on a shoestring has its fair of thrills between the dead spots.

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Taking his lead from The Blair Witch Project, the first-time director Oren Peli has created a horror that makes smart use of digital technology to create genuine scares with unusual characters. When Katie (Katie Featherston) tells her partner Micah (Micah Sloat) that she believes their house is possessed, he sets up a video camera to record what happens in the building while they're asleep. It's supposed to feel like a documentary and starts with a written notice from the film company thanking the fictional families of the protagonists and the San Diego police for allowing them to use the tape dating from 2006, which Micah has purportedly shot. The foundfootage gimmick works because the leading couple look like real people rather than movie stars and are initially goofy and uncomfortable in front of the camera. They bicker and are not very likeable: she is too harsh and he acts out of his own selfinterest. The couple only realise what's happened to them when they review the tapes the next morning and see doors open, shadows appear and weird sounds echo around the house. Despite the scares, the film soon becomes repetitive, thanks to the action being limited to the confines of the house. It is compounded by the fact that Peli does not always have a great command of pace, leaving periods in which simply not enough happens. That's a shame, because Paranormal Activity is at times extremely innovative.