One of the scariest films of the year, “Paranormal Activity”

Chandy Clemens

“Paranormal Activity” is one of the scariest films I have ever seen, as generic as that may sound. When a horror movie succeeds at truly shocking-and-awing that’s when you know you’ve got a keeper. “Paranormal Activity” is a keeper.

After Hitchcock’s “Psycho” I never wanted to take a shower with supervision again. Once finished watching “The Descent,” hell no was I ever going down in a cave. And once my case of heart palpitations settled, “Paranormal Activity” made me afraid of my own bed.

This paralyzing thought probably never crossed Micah (Micah Sloat) and Kate ( Kate Featherston), the two leads, a lovely couple living in their lovely American home who suspect there’s an extra something rather than nothing making bumps in the night. Kate holds the belief a spiritual entity may be haunting their abode or some sort of creepish, invisible monster.

The greatest part of “Paranormal Activity” is it’s ability to be so scary without revealing the true cause of any terror. Like “The Blair Witch Project,” horrifying events are taking place throughout, but the appearance of any evil-doer fails to appear. We as the viewer are continuously left in the dark and by no means aware of what could possibly take place next.

The digital camera becomes a third character and we the outside observers. Micah and Kate’s dedicated performances seem so realistic, one easily could have assumed we were watching America’s Scariest Home Video the entire time, but despite the introductory teaser trying to fool the audience, “Paranormal” isn’t actually real.

The subtle direction of first-timer Oren Peli allows for a more organic and less forced relationship between Micah and Kate. Slowly, they become unhinged with the other after multiple sleepless nights and the infringing presence of whatever the hell is in their house.

Kate begins to loose her grip on sanity and it is Micah, who despite his own anxieties, must cater to her emotionally deteriorating state. At a certain point, their believability becomes frighteningly real.

Made on a shoestring budget of no more than $11,000, “Paranormal Activity” is exceptionally well-done especially as it lacks the typical special effects, gore, and buckets of blood that are supposed to add extra fright according to horror standards. “Paranormal” doesn’t need excess carnage in order to get the point across.

Peli progressively built up an unbearable amount of suspense from scene to scene that the anticipation in itself was terrifying. I felt relieved to see a director not bombard the viewer with grotesque imagery and instead rely on the absence of a physical villain to make the supernatural extremely freaky.

Peli’s highly original feature debut is one chalk full of goods to scare you senseless. Be prepared.