So you move into a new house and keep getting woken up by strange noises, furniture moving, doors slamming. Naturally, you don’t jump to the conclusion that you are the doomed protagonists in a horror movie, so you take the logical step of setting up video cameras to try to capture some glimpse of what’s happening. That’s the premise of Oren Peli’s micro-budgeted (shot for just $11,000) horror film Paranormal Activity. It’s been getting a good vibe at various film festivals and just landed the dream of all indie films made on a shoestring: Paramount picked it up for distribution and has set a September 25th release date.
While it’s drawing a lot of understandable comparisons to Blair Witch, i.e. presented as genuine home-shot video, what it reminds me of most is the start of every haunted house movie. Eeriness intruding on tranquil domesticity, the mounting horror of knowing something else is there even if you can’t see it, drawing infinite tension out of thin air. Haunted house movies tend to fall apart once the special effects get involved, but they tend to stay scary as long as they never show you more than the shark’s fin. This one looks like it might keep the shark underwater where it belongs.