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Oren Peli
Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs, Amber Armstrong
Writing Credits:
Oren Peli

What Happens When You Sleep?

You demanded it and now the surprise hit critics call "one of the scariest movies of all time"* can be experienced in the most terrifying place of all ... your home. After a young, middle-class couple moves into what seems like a typical suburban house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially while they sleep. Paranormal Activity builds suspense all the way to the shocking ending. Roger Ebert calls it "truly scary." Go ahead, we dare you to watch it at home ... at least you can leave the lights on. [* bloody-disgusting.com]

Box Office:
$15 thousand.
Opening Weekend
$77.873 thousand on 12 screens.
Domestic Gross
$107.917 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 86 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 12/29/2009

• Alternate Ending
• Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Paranormal Activity [Blu-Ray] (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 28, 2010)

If you want to find the most profitable release of 2009, look no further than Paranormal Activity. Made a few years earlier for a budget of only $15,000, the flick went on to gross a remarkable $107 million in the US. That means the movie made more than 7000 times its cost!

Profitability was only one of the reasons Activity hearkened back to 1999’s Blair Witch Project, another super-cheap horror flick that acted as an obvious inspiration. In Activity, we meet day trader Micah (Micah Sloat) and his live-in college student girlfriend Katie (Katie Featherston). Micah sets up a special new video camera to catch the goings-on in their bedroom.

But not for horn-dog reasons. Some strange occurrences have been popping up at night. Katie believes supernatural forces operate here, so the skeptical Micah wants to capture them on tape. Matters escalate as the alleged spirits became bolder, actions that make the young couple to become even more fearful and anxious.

That synopsis makes it sound like something actually happens during Activity, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the movie features exceedingly little action. Much of the time, we just see Micah and Katie sleeping, and when they’re not in bed, they’re arguing about what’s happening and what to do about it. Sequences in which supernatural forces make any kind of appearance don’t happen very often, and when they do pop up, they’re pretty darned dull. We hear a lot of stomping and see some doors close but little else.

All of this would be fine if Activity worked to create a mood of tension or fear. Unfortunately, the only feelings the film provokes are sheer, total boredom. It’s never tense, never scary, never creepy, never anything other than vaguely annoying, mostly due to that schmuck Micah.

Here's much of the movie:

Micah: "You hear that, babe?"

Katie: "Did you see that?"

Micah: "I saw that, babe!"

Katie: "I heard that!"

Or we get scenes such as this:

Katie: "I'm scared!"

Micah: "I'll fix it, babe - this is my house, babe!"

Katie: "Don't go up there, Micah!"

Micah: "I'm going up there, babe!"

Katie: "Don't go down there, Micah!"

Micah: "I'm going down there, babe!"

Katie: "Don't go in there, Micah!"

Micah: "I'm going in there, babe! This is my house – I’ll fix this!"

And so on, and so on. Micah should go down as one of cinema’s all-time most irritating characters. He’s a full of himself prick with few – if any – redeeming qualities. At least Katie is more pleasing, largely because Featherston is absolutely gorgeous. Neither she nor Sloat seems to have much acting talent, but I hope she shows up in something else just because she’s so easy on the eyes.

Featherston is literally the only positive aspect of Paranormal Activity. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this dull, tedious film earned such rave reviews. I appreciate its attempts to avoid obvious shocks/scares, but the problem is that it goes too far in the other direction. In its pursuit of subtlety, it forgot to give us anything interesting. That makes it a complete dud.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C/ Audio C/ Bonus D

Paranormal Activity appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Due to the source material, this wasn’t a particularly attractive presentation, but it represented the original footage well.

Sharpness varied a lot. The shooting style meant lots and lots of out of focus elements, but those had nothing to do with the transfer itself. The disc featured delineation that was perfectly appropriate for the various shots. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge enhancement. Source flaws also remained absent; I saw some video artifacts in low-light scenes, but those were inevitable.

Given the videotape origins, colors tended to be bland. The movie usually made things look somewhat brown, which made sense within the format. Though the hues never seemed memorable, they were fine for what I expected. Along the same path, blacks tended to be somewhat wan, while shadows usually appeared a bit opaque and dense. This was an accurate take on fairly flat material.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Paranormal Activity, it would be better described as a 1.1 mix; it rarely – if ever – used any channels other than the front center and the subwoofer. The side speakers may’ve presented some very minor ambience, but that was the greatest extent of their usage, and even then, it wasn’t clear they boasted any audio. This track remained heavily focused on the front center, with occasional low-end from the subwoofer to represent the supernatural forces.

The material sounded like it would’ve come from the mic on a standard camcorder. I felt the sound was natural within the film’s stylistic confines, except for the presence of the bass. As I mentioned, scenes with a supernatural bent featured a good low-end rumble from the subwoofer.

Otherwise, this was a pretty flat presentation. Speech dominated, and the lines were erratic but usually fairly thin and flat. Effects worked about the same way, though they didn’t have much to do; the occasional “boo!” scene gave them the most work. No score appeared in the film. The audio was appropriate for the film.

Despite the movie’s enormous success, the Blu-ray includes very few extras. We can watch the film in its theatrical version or with an Alternate Ending. That scene can’t be inspected on its own; it has to be selected from the opening menu as a separate version.

For the review, I screened the theatrical cut, but I skipped to the end of the alternate version to check out the change. I believe the two cuts are identical until the very end of the flick. The main difference relates to the Katie character. Neither ending is particularly good, but the theatrical one works better because it’s less conclusive; it leaves open more doors.

A second disc provides a Digital Copy of Activity. This allows you to slap the flick onto your portable viewing gizmo or your computer. Live it up!

Perhaps if you transfer Paranormal Activity onto your computer, you can edit a copy of it that’s not boring or pointless. I expect this version would consistent solely of a montage of scenes that show Katie Featherston’s cleavage. Other than her loveliness, the film is an utter snoozefest, a “horror film” completely lacking in tension, drama or scares. The Blu-ray offers picture and audio that accurately represent the bland source material, while it comes with a very minor set of supplements. Clearly this flick has a lot of fans, but I can’t figure out why, as I think it’s a waste of time.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.1052 Stars Number of Votes: 19
7 3:
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