“Found Footage”

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the first three Paranormal Activity films, but I’ve avoided spoiling too much about Paranormal Activity 4 itself (until the Stray Observations – read those at your own risk!)

Back when it first received a wide release in 2009, the original Paranormal Activity was a breath of fresh air. Compared to the 5-year old Saw series, for instance, its thrills and scares were generated not by the amount of blood onscreen but by the unseen terrors that it set off in our imaginations. The found-footage genre wasn’t exactly new at that point (having already been used in, for instance, REC and Cloverfield), but it hadn’t reached the seemingly ubiquitous status that it has now. Audiences responded and the film grossed nearly $200 million worldwide. Because of that huge success, there’s been a new Paranormal Activity movie released every October since, and 2012 is no different, bringing us Paranormal Activity 4.

(more…)


Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Film #8: Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

After watching the second Paranormal Activity film a few weeks ago, I had an immediate urge to follow-up with the third. Despite the disappointment of that film, I just love horror movies, and I have a special fondness for these found-footage movies that immerse the audience in verisimilitude. In any case, I would have expected the third movie to follow Katie and Hunter after the events of the second, but instead, it jumps back in time to the 80s and glorious VHS tapes to show us all the stuff that happened to Katie and Kristi when they were young. And so this movie follows them, their mother Julie, and their mother’s boyfriend Dennis, who takes it upon himself to film the house every night after noticing some unnatural dust settling on tape after an earthquake (which was only recording because they were about to make a sex tape – yes, the series finally went that route, but no, it doesn’t actualize into any nudity).

(more…)


Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Film #3: Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Two years ago when the first Paranormal Activity came out and had everyone shitting their pants, I saw it and did a webcam review for the now-defunct Rotten Tomatoes Show. I didn’t bother to keep up with the series as the sequels rolled off the line, but since PA2 was on Netflix, I decided to hit it up, remembering the fond feeling I felt toward the original. Paranormal Activity 2 is a “parallel prequel” to the first, taking place before and a little bit after its predecessor. Instead of following a couple, the sequel gives us a full-fledged family – newborn baby, dog and all. Adding to the camcorder shots is footage from security cameras that the Rey family installs after they come home to find their house in disarray (but with nothing stolen). Over the next couple of weeks, wife Kristi and daughter Ali start to suspect a supernatural presence in the house, though father Dan remains obstinate.

(more…)