Monday, October 25, 2010

Paranormal Activity

I am not a huge fan of horror movies. No particular reason; I mostly don't care for the genre and am rarely intrigued by the stories. If anything I prefer suspense--where the excitement and creativity stem from what is unseen more than seen.

I also don't care much for the paranormal. Sure, I listen to Coast to Coast AM and I'm sometimes fascinated by the tales that are told, but I am most definitely more of an armchair enthusiast if anything.

I've never watched the Blair Witch Project. I've seen some previews and I just don't get it. Since it's not something I'm into and I pretty much already know the story, I just can't bring myself to get motion sickness for no reason.

And thus when I was presented with an opportunity to watch Paranormal Activity on Netflix--effectively for free--I decided to do it. So my wife and I watched it on her laptop. I was, shall we say, underwhelmed.

I mean, it was OK--I sort of knew what to expect going in--but I just didn't see what the big deal was. It was suspenseful enough--not a teaspoon of gore in the entire movie, a fact I respected--but by and large it just seemed boring. The first door creak seemed to take almost forty minutes. There wasn't a story. The effects were minimal. And I couldn't bring myself to care about the two main characters. Right after we watched it I thought it was one of the stupidest things I had ever wasted my time watching. Two nights later when I freaked myself out half-asleep and my wife found me hovering over the blinking red light of her heating pad wrapped up like Batman in my own blanket, I had a little bit more appreciation for it. But not much.

So neither my wife nor I really had any desire to watch the sequel, Paranormal Activity 2. But it was a lazy Sunday afternoon and--more importantly--it was matinee prices, so we decided to run to the movies and watch it.

It actually wasn't bad. I'm still not going to say it's particularly well done and I think a lot of it was pretty boring and predictable. And yet--I didn't care. It was fun. It's not anything new--cupboards flying open and the green night-vision antics have been done by other movies much better. And some of the situations were pretty strained. But they did, in fact, start to weave in a story. It actually answered a lot of questions in the first movie that it never occurred to me to ask--and now I sort of care how things will end up for the characters retroactively. They even set themselves up for a good, solid third story.

Are these the best movies ever? Hardly. I still think they rely too much on boredom punctuated by cheap scares, and the minimalist look is starting to get old; after Blair Witch and this franchise, I'd say it's more or less played out. Part of me wants to recommend that anyone who wants to see it should go to a theater, since I think sound is an important part of the movie. (There's no doubt that watching it on a laptop lessened my enjoyment of the first movie.) But I'd be hard-pressed to recommend it with the costs involved. Still, if you're looking for some good ole-fashioned Halloween film fare, you can't really go wrong with this.

Just turn off the heating pad before you go to bed.

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