Similar to The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and Quarantine before it, Paranormal Activity is a thriller that utilizes a documentary style format. Some of the scenes seem to fade out at strange times which makes the film seem a little more unpredictable and real.
The new actress, Katie Featherston does a great job at playing the sweet and vulnerable college student who has had an evil entity following her most of her life. Micah Sloat does a very good job as well, as the inquisitive day-trader to whom Katie is “engaged to be engaged”. Micah has a child-like fascination with the paranormal and wants to get as much captured on film as possible.
It is obvious why this film had a low-budget, there is a total of eight actors in the original version and there are not a lot of big-budget special effects. The film does not need many special effects because it is all about the build up of suspense. All that happens the first night that Micah sets up the camera to document the paranormal occurrences is the movement of a door and from the on the paranormal encounters get more intense. The director, Oren Peli, seems to believe in the idea that less is more.
Katie and Micah invite a psychic into their house who tells them that it is likely that the paranormal presence that followed Katie from her old home is a demon. He warns the young couple that they must not react to the paranormal happenings, that the demon feeds on “negative energy”, and to not provoke the demon by using things such as Ouija boards. He warns that people have died from messing with demons. But of course, Micah continues to antagonize the demon and uses a Ouija board, to Katie’s dismay, which causes a “negative energy” between the two. It would not be a horror movie otherwise, would it?
This film had three different endings and if you do not want any of them to be ruined for you, you should stop reading this review now. In the ending that I saw, Katie gets out of bed and stares at Micah for hours before she goes downstairs. She begins to scream, waking Micah who goes to see what is going on. A struggle can be heard between Micah, Katie, and the evil presence. Katie, then walks back up to her room with a knife in her hand and blood on her shirt. She then rocks back and forth for days. Katie’s friend then comes and she can be heard screaming off camera. Its not clear if she was screaming because she found the remains of Micah or if it was because she was being attacked by the demon. Then the police arrives and find Katie who finally falls out of her trance and asks the police “Where’s Micah?” The police see the knife in her hand and shot her. As the credits roll the police can be heard as they discover the camera. In another ending, Katie throws Micah’s body at the camera and knocks it over after the struggle downstairs. She then sniffs Micah and attacks the camera while smiling eerily. The scene blacks out and the credits roll. In the third ending, Katie comes up stairs after the struggle and slits her throat in the view of the camera. After watching the ending that I did, I felt surprised and a little uneasy. In all of the endings the viewer is not let off the hook. Katie and Micah do not live happily ever after in any of the endings and the demon is still alive.