Movie Review: Paranormal Activity (2009)

Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat in Paranormal Activity
Photo: Paramount Pictures

As far as supernatural thrillers go, Paranormal Activity is the best I have ever seen. The fact it was made on an $11,000 budget with amateur actors goes to show just how far a little imagination can go. It doesn't require an endless amount of effects, sex and swearing to engage an audience as writer/director Oren Peli and his two principals -- Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat -- deliver a film you won't soon forget.

When it comes to frightening movies I'm not much of a jumper, instead I'm a clenched fist, chills up the arm and down the spine kind of guy, and Paranormal Activity has that category covered to the hilt. However, if you're a jumper you won't be glued to your seat for very long and if you fall into both categories then Lord help you because there is no helping you once this movie gets going.

Paranormal Activity
Grade: A+

Paranormal Activity"Paranormal Activity" is a Paramount Pictures release, directed by Oren Peli and is rated R for language. The running time is .

The cast includes Micah Sloat, Katie Featherston, Michael Bayouth and Amber Armstrong.

To avoid spoiling anything about this film, I will simply say it follows a young couple who suspect some supernatural activity is going on in their house and as a result Micah (Sloat) purchases a camera in an attempt to catch some of it on video, or at the very least get the audio on tape. What begins as a door gently shifting in the middle of the night turns into much, much more as the story of Katie and Micah is told in nightly segments and it just becomes relentless. The set-up leaves little room for debate and unless your imagination is a barren landscape you would be hard pressed not to get caught up in Paranormal Activity's 99 minutes of madness.

This is a film you must see in theaters to get the full effect and just pray you have a lively crowd. Men in the audience will be laughing loud and cracking jokes in an effort to hide their anxiety and the ladies will barely be able to control themselves as my midnight audience was screaming even before the scares.

If a door was about to slam you could hardly hear it over members of the audience screaming at the very fact it was moving. It was some of the most fun I've had at the theater in a long time as you could feel you were watching something and taking part in an event at the exact same time as the hundreds of people in the theater with you. All of you feeling the exact same apprehension as the midnight hour passed and another night of unexpected activity was about to take place.

It seems ironic how this film is being compared to 1999's The Blair Witch Project and I just so happened to see it in the exact same theater I saw that film 10 years ago. However, this film trumps Blair Witch to the fullest extent. Paranormal Activity is freaky, it's frightening and it's menacing. It's a film I wouldn't be able to show my sister because she wouldn't be able to sleep soundly for a year, and that is not an exaggeration.

If you are any kind of fan of supernatural thrillers and seek out films that will put you on edge, look no further. Paranormal Activity is the real deal and I would hate for you to miss it.

SPECIAL NOTE: Paranormal Activity is opening in 13 cities on September 25, 2009, but it's expansion depends on audience demand. A website has been set up to allow moviegoers to "demand" it come to their city, which you can visit right here. I can't stress enough how much I think you should do your best to get it to your city, this is a film meant to be experienced with an audience and not merely seen in your living room on DVD.


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  • Michael A.

    This sounds awesome. I hope business for it picks up and it plays within driving distance. I'm so there when and if it does.

  • Benji

    Wow, im gonna see this one for sure. Id never even heard of it until now.

    Great review man.

  • Helgi

    Well, I like the wording of this one. Puts me on alert already.

  • Adriano

    Hope this become a success. So I'll have a chance to see it here in Brazil.

  • Nick

    I'll totally see it (opens Nov 5 here in Russia), but I'm sure it'll have a hard time topping The Shining and The Exorcist in my personal list of favourite horrors/thrillers.

  • Connor

    I wish it were in every theater. On the website, you can vote it to be in your area, which i did. And i hope it is in my area

  • Hollstar

    I don't doubt it's a well-made movie; I just hope the creepy-level in it isn't overstated. I can't remember the last time I felt the tinglies.

  • Joel

    If this is scarier than "The Descent"...*shudders*

    I can't wait. I'll go on and demand it right now.

  • JM

    Wow. Goddamn, that's a positive review! I'm really excited to see this now! It's actually playing at a theater 10 minutes away from my dorm, but it's only doing midnight showings, and I have a 24-hour film challenge this weekend that effectively postpones such a movie outing. I hope this has a smashing first weekend followed by an aggressive expansion!


    With all this buzz and great reviews why can't Paramount give it a proper release. With an $11,000 budget what do they have to lose. I don't get it!


  • bobby

    Even if you say see it in theatres, I really don't want to. When I'm watching a horror movie, I want to hear every detail in the audio, and get completely sucked into the atmosphere and environment. That just doesn't happen in a theatre full of screaming people. Hearing everyone just annoys me since I want to listen to the actual movie.

    I'm sure it wouldn't be packed enough in my area to cause much of a problem, so I may try to find a showing around here, though highly doubtful it's playing here, and hopefully it will be less crowded.

  • No-nonsense

    Pay to see Paranormal Activity? Don't waste a dime a second on this one! It's a paranormal activity already that this movie is even getting promoted and shown like a real movie. F for grade.

  • Matt

    This movie was so stupid, I just watched in SC, and all I can say it was NOT was a real waste of time!!

  • troy

    wholy shiz!!!! this sounds like such an amazingly-scary comes to phoenix where i live on 10/1....haha but its 23 miles from my house....although from the reviews ive been will be worth the drive!!!haha great!! i hope it lives up to my expectations!!

  • Tio

    Just watched this movie today for the midnight showing. Amazing movie, I rarely get freaked out off of horror movies but this one really shines on entrancing the viewer straight into the movie.

    Although slow to start in the beginning moments of the movie, the added humor in the conversations between the couple and night scenes helps keep the movie going until the latter spine tingling parts of the movie. Note that the near ending scenes are a mindf*ck. I say that with the upmost emphasis.

  • smeagle

    Matt - just because YOU didn't like the movie, doesn't make it make such a sweeping generalization is an insult to all the people who were actually affected by it...people can either suspend disbelief and let their imagination run wild...or they can't - you clearly can't - don't blame the movie for that....blame your DNA....

  • Jennifer Wishum

    Another movie that is coming out that offers a clean alternative is ‘’Paranormal.’’ Below is some additional information about this new thriller!!

    Paranormal, the latest supernatural thriller from Cross Shadow Productions, (the
    creators of the approved, best-selling BMG releases: Pray and Pray 2:
    The Woods) will be available in stores nationwide January 26th 2010. The 2009 Mrs. America is starring in it.

    See more information and trailers at:

    Following the success of family-friendly suspense/thriller The Exorcism of Emily
    Rose (Sony Pictures), comes a riveting supernatural thriller in the vein of the hit
    SyFy television series, Ghost Hunters and Frank Peretti's House (Roadside
    Attractions / Lionsgate).

    Paranormal follows best-selling, self-made novelist Greg Evans struggling through the worst case of writer's block in his award-winning career. In a desperate search for
    inspiration, Greg quickly finds himself immersed in a world he is not prepared to face.
    Turning to a group of paranormal investigators, Greg and the ghost hunting team search for proof and answers, yet are unaware they are about to have an experience of a lifetime! None will leave the way they came. Paranormal will peel back the supernatural curtain to reveal how The TRUTH will EXPOSE the darkness!

  • Teena

    I saw it last night, boy did I have a hard time falling asleep afterwards! Absolutely chilling movie! Probably one of the scariest movies I've seen if not the scariest. It's refreshing to see movies like this don't use the typical gore and blood and computer generated effects to get cheap screams. I agree that it should be seen in the theater...although some of the audience noise was a bit annoying at times. But it was worth it to see a bunch of people run (not walk) out of the theater after scary scenes! GO WATCH PLEASE!!!

  • dee

    ill say that this iz thee scariest movie i have ever seen.
    i didnt sleep for 2dayz after seeing this flick.
    i had to room with my mom...lolx
    im so serious.

  • Ana

    @No-nonsense: I agree. I'm all for new filmmakers; however, this is one of the worst movies I've ever seen if not the worst. Based on the review, I feel like I went to see a different movie. I've never fallen asleep in a movie theatre until this movie. There was alot of nothing going on. There was a moment or two in which the audience woke me with their screams and upon opening my eyes, I found that I missed nothing. The best part of the movie was the ending which I believe was part of the trailer. I will watch Twilight 10 tiimes over before seeing this movie again. I will applaud the filmer for just having a limited budget on this movie and getting suckers like myself to see it.

  • Teri Knowlton

    I saw this movie last week-end. We drove 50 miles because it was not showing locally. I'm sorry to say but I was disappointed in the movie.

    It was a little creepy, but the characters just made me angry with they handled the disturbances that I found myself thinking through out the movie "why don't they turn on a darn light". No one in their right mind would do half the stuff these two did. Also the ending was very lame, and the camera work is jumpy, so for those who get motion sickness, they may want to avoid this one.

    I have told my friends not to waste their movie and just wait for it to come out on video. The one good thing I can say about the movie is it doesn't have blood and gore in it which is a nice change.

  • Tessa

    This was THE worst movie I have EVER seen. I was bored out of my mind. This movie was not at all frightening.... WORST movie, WORST. Save your money.

  • giovanni

    this movie was just great!... i drove about 50 miles to go see it, and couldn't really sleep at night. I would look at my girlfriend and make sure no stuff like that was going on. I would highly recommend this movie, but don't watch it alone. Or sleep with someone, I guess. It is true, the beginning of the movie isn't that interesting, but pay attention so you don't miss any details. You will enjoy the ending. Now go to the nearest movie theather playing this movie and scream all you can

  • Rodrigo Freitas

    @Adriano: hey Adriano, eu sou Brasileiro moro aqui em NYC...este filme parece nao for pro Brasil vc me da seu contato que eu posso tentar comprar pra vc...mais aqui so vou achar em ingles e sem da um toque ..valeu :-)

  • missy

    this movie was terrible. the first 45 min. BORING, the next 45 min. TERRIBLE. even if you don't get motion will. definately not scary, definately not a horror film. aweful.........................waste of time & money.

  • Sean

    Disappointed! Every scary part (apart from the dragging?) was shown in the trailer! Completely spoiled it for me.

  • dre

    The movie was wack...I do not like scary movies and I laughed in this one... Hello too much hype,,,

  • Anisha

    I saw the movie this past saturday and i can say it made me jump a couple of times. This movie proves that you don't have to spend millions of dollars to make a scary movie. I see how some people thought it wasn't scary and it was stupid. those people like horror movies like the Blob and jason where there's blood, and why i don't know but sex. theres nothing wrong with those kinds of movies. but i love movies where the suspense is worse then what u actually see. i don't believe in ghosts but i imagined myself being in the room sleep and that right there is what is scary. its a good movie and if you like scary movies you should go see it. i even went by myself cause my boyfriend or any of my friends do scary movies. i know it sounds stupid but i slept with my door closed that nite! lol!

  • Betty

    @Benji: DON'T SEE IT!!! IT'S BORING!!!

  • Krystal

    I just watched this movie and was VERY disappointed! It was a waste of time to watch and was not scary at all! I was so excited to see this movie and am completely shocked at how boring and awful it was. I would not recommend ANYONE to waste their time or money on this movie! I still cannot believe it sucked so bad!

  • Gary

    Boring, not scary, not interesting, bad acting, horrible picture, cheap piece of shit! This is by far the shittiest, most boring movie I have ever seen, If you thought this was good shoot yourself in the face and rid yourself from the gene pool please!

  • Lewis

    This was not a horror movie it was a HORRIFIC movie! One of the worst pieces of crap I've ever seen. Stay home and take a nap. Don't waste your money or time on this one. If you have seen the trailer then you have seen the best parts.

  • Chris de Roflan

    Whoa! That was a little TOO CREEPY for my liking...superb movie and sound really made me jump out of my seat more than once! Must Watch! Especially in the Movie will have a blast, literally. And not to mention what an insomniac you can be on the night you watched the movie.

  • Chris de Roflan

    P.S: I also recommend to not to watch this movie if you have seen the official trailer. It just spoils the 'horror' by leaking the best parts. I am also thanking my stars that I didn't watch the trailer. Else, it would have been a piece of sh*t for me as well.. :-D

  • Kim

    This movie was a total waste of time! Very disappointing. The 2 actors were horrible. A guy and his girlfriend all alone in the movie director's house with a cheap camera and a few fake sound effects. Anyone could have pulled this off much better. Scariest movie of the decade? What a lie! Crappiest B rated piece of **** ever.

  • Mochan

    Absolute shittiest movie ever. Ohhhhh waste of my fucking time.

  • reggie

    you people do realize the movie is NOT based on a true story....because if it was it would be all over the news and i dont think the directors and cops would allow the actual videos of the two people experiencing paranormal stuff.