While coming home from work a few weeks ago I saw a billboard for Saw VI. Then I realized that up until which point I didn’t even know that there was a Saw IV. The thought degraded into a reminder of the poor state that horror films have been in for the past year: there’s been many films such as The Final Destination and Saw VI for every Drag Me To Hell. For those of us who don’t like being beaten over the head with gore and insipid CGI-budgeted films, the past year was a dud. Paranormal Activity offers those of us some reprieve.
Paranormal Activity mock-uments the home movies of a couple’s investigation of demonic forces in their new home. Demons, the occult and the lovingly horror-cliche Ouija board all play a role in rehashing, albeit sometimes from the best sources, a film about demonic domestic violence.
Striking at all of the right chords, the film’s main focus – which seems to be the only original one – relies heavily on sound and atmosphere throughout the film. A refreshing aspect of Paranormal Activity lies in its minimal amount of special effects. With an exemplary use of sound, the film works on the nerves of the viewer by repeatedly assaulting them with a brilliant balance of silence, soundscape and subtle visual effects.
Furthermore, throughout Paranormal Activity what stands out is the lack of CGI-dependent special effects. The greater portion of special effects are conventional types of the film school variety. The better portion of special effects are of a psychological nature.
As most of the demonic domestic violence in the film is located in the bedroom of the sleeping couple, this makes the film stand out as a supernatural thriller because of the element of psychological framework. In one interview, director Oren Peli says, “I think a lot of people can relate to the question of what happens at night when you’re most vulnerable.” Peli’s statement becomes evident after each night of relentless demonic terrorism that’s inflicted upon the suburban homeowners in Paranormal Activity.
Activity provides an interesting twist in horror film, with special effects being the main course for more recent films of the genre. Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity allows the viewer’s imagination and the film’s overall culturing of atmosphere – coupled with reality television flair (which is scary enough) – to alter states and scare because of, take this, the film’s actual content instead of a kick-ass CGI team or lots of gore.
If you’re looking for gore and over-the-top special effects, then my advice stands that Saw VI will be opening in two weeks. I saw the billboards. The superb Paranormal Activity, though, will only leave you reeling for the CGI-money shot.