Paranormal Activity has already turned into this year’s (and even this decade’s) little-film-that-could. Made in 2006 over the course of seven days for less than $15,000, amateur filmmaker Oren Peli shopped his film around to various film festivals for three years trying to find a studio to distribute it. His hard work finally paid off when none other than Steven Spielberg came across it. The film immediately caught his attention and the studio initiated a word-of-mouth marketing plan that started very small in less than ten college-based towns before quickly expanding into a few hundred and finally thousands of theaters nation-wide.
The film is a bona fide smash hit and is already purported to be the most profitable film ever made (Paramount and Dreamworks have only spent around $10 million to market the film…one-tenth or less of many blockbusters today).
Katie and Micah are a young, fresh-faced couple living in an ideal suburban home when they notice strange phenomena beginning to occur during the night. Subtle noises, seemingly misplaced household items, house creaks . . . the things we’ve all laid awake at night and wondered, not just as kids either, if there’s something inside. As we grow older our fears tend to shed away and they are rationalized by common logic. “It’s the just the house settling.” How many times as little kids did we hear our parents tell us that?
Katie and Micah begin to step outside of this box of rationality that some would argue we’re all painted into throughout our lives. They set up a camera to record what goes on in their bedroom at night and what starts out as a playful distraction quickly turns into something very real and something that will challenge everything they thought they knew about the paranormal world.
The biggest success of Paranormal Activity is the way Peli directs his environments and uses minimalism in ways better perhaps than almost any horror film ever has. Remember, this film was made for $11,000. Blood, gore, and one-liners need not apply and this is exactly what he intended as audiences have become hungry for something that truly evokes those irrational (or rational?) fears that everyone has had at some point in their lives. The film persistently *dares* the viewer to keep looking past the door frame and in the corners of the room just so you can catch a glimpse of something lurking.
Thanks to Peli and Paranormal Activity, every sound in your house is once again suspect…no matter how old you are or how de-sensitized to a good scare you think you’ve become.
Good luck going to sleep.