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</script></div>{/googleAds}In a sign that they â"get it," Paramount Pictures has resorted to a creative marketing plan for the platform release of Paranormal Activity, a frightening little indie-horror doc that has been causing quite the nationwide sensation as of late. With hopes of finding a soft spot in today's over-crowded release schedule, the distributor lets potential audiences â"demand" the film's release in their town by visiting a website to vote. While risky to put the fate of anything in the hands of the general public, the recent buzz rattling across the Internet proves this a genius plan, reaping great rewards since its very limited premiere in late September of this year.

Similarly, in a sign that he â"gets it," writer/director Oren Peli uses a minimalist approach in creating his horror. He knows that the most effective terror comes from what an audience doesn't see, rather than from what it does. So he employs virtually no CGI in the film, very few sound effects, and even less blood. As a result, the unseen horrors from our own worst nightmares are conjured up and used against us. In other words, he allows us to be betrayed by our own insecurities. And for most... that's some really scary stuff!

Paranormal  ActivityMuch like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield before it, Paranormal Activity reaps genuine hair-raising terror through the viewfinder of a shaky hand-held video camera. Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston) are young, middle-class professionals who share a two-story house in the suburbs. Micah is driving Katie nuts with his video camera, trying to record the paranormal events that have been plaguing her sleep ever since childhood. He sets up the camera on a tripod each night, engages the night-vision, and let's tape roll with the lens pointed at their bed.

The strange occurrences begin slowly at first - muffled thumps in the walls and creepy noises in the attic - but ratchet up in both frequency and intensity each night. Doors begin moving on their own, lights turn off and on, and bed sheets lightly flutter for no apparent reason. The ghostly menace is clearly becoming more intent on wreaking havoc with each passing night.

Among the jittery hand-held scenes of Micah and Katie discussing their dilemma and trying to go about their lives, is the recurring static bedroom shot that becomes more and more frightening each time we see it. The effectiveness of the night vision scene is ironically enhanced by its simplicity and lack of special effects or extemporaneous audio. Our mind's eye provides an almost overwhelming sense of impending doom each time the scene switches to the green-cast couple lying motionless in bed... time counter rolling relentlessly in the corner of the frame. Look for this sequence to become an iconic image in the annals of horror movie history. It's that effective.

Paramount and Oren Peli have teamed up to bring us one of the most unique horror experiences in quite some time. Peli borrows filmmaking ideals from the masters of horror with his minimalism and practicality, while Paramount has broken out of the stodgy mold of intransigence typical of most Hollywood studios and embraced a unique marketing strategy for a truly remarkable little film. If Paranormal Activity hasn't yet been released in your area, go to the website and vote to demand it. It will be well worth your time. It's scary, and it's unsettling. And besides, you've been getting too much restful sleep lately anyway.

Component Grades
5 Stars
3 Stars
DVD Experience
4 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Disc one features both the theatrical cut of the film as well as the version with an alternate ending (both coming in at 86 minutes in length). Both the theatrical and alternate endings are also included separately (1080p, 5:11 each)

Screen Formats: 1.78:1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish.

Language and Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1.



  • No commentary track offered.

Previews - Shutter Island (1080p, 2:24)

Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of Paranormal Activity.

Number of Discs: 2 with Keepcase Packaging.