Every time a new movie in this series comes out there are people that wonder why do we love Paranormal Activity? I think Bloody Disgusting summed up our reaction quite well:
“Paranormal Activity is one of the scariest movies of all-time. YOU WILL BE AFFECTED as it’s hard to ignore the imprint it leaves on your psyche. You know it’s fake, and yet, you can’t shake it. Nightmares are guaranteed.”
There are numerous videos online of audience reactions to Paranormal Activity and here’s just one!
So why do we love Paranormal Activity? This question brings up a whole different issue of why people love horror movies and like to be scared, and I’m not going to get into that here. But it is true, if all the horror subgenres, supernatural and especially possession or haunting found footage movies are my favourite. These are the only ones that come even close to scaring me. It’s not because I fear ghosts and spooks or demonic possession, but for two main reasons:
- Our homes are meant to be a safe place; a sanctuary from the craziness of the world. The idea of strange happenings or unseen forces shattering that safety is truly disturbing, especially as there is no one you can call to help you.
- The idea of looking into my loved one’s face and seeing some other person or ‘entity’ peering out at me would be incomprehensible to me. Even worse, would be the idea of being trapped in my body, while someone else took over; I am a complete control freak and is there any greater loss of control?
Who would you call for help? Who would believe you? That’s what makes the idea of a haunting particularly scary. The found footage filming style allows us to be a fly on the wall and gives us an extra level of intimacy with the characters in the movie, making it all the more real.
The Blair Witch Project spawned a slew of these found footage movies, and to be honest, the genre was actually becoming tired and old. That is until Oren Peil created Paranormal Activity. The movie was made on a shoestring budget, but the story of a home video filmed by a couple trying to understand the strange happenings in their home, really captured the imagination of moviegoers. This was helped by the fact that the actors really seemed to portray a real relationship and had great chemistry, which so many movies of this genre really lack.
The first three films work in reverse; each one a prequel to the one before and explaining a little more of the overall story. So far they have gone as far back as the 80s, and the ‘home video’ style has worked. But as soon as it was announced there would be a Paranormal Activity 4, speculation was rife as to what it could possibly be about. This is because going further back into the past would make it impossible to continue the story in a ‘home video’ manner. Instead with the fourth movie and with The Marked Ones the Paranormal Activity universe has been expanding.
In fact I particularly love how a little more is revealed in every movie. We’ve gone from the first movie, where this couple are beset by this entity in their home, to the second where we’re shown how it came to be there. In the third we are shown how it all started, and in the following movies we learn there is a much bigger and sinister meaning to this all.
There are those for whom this will never be their cup of tea, and that’s cool, as there are plenty of other movies out there for them. But for those like me, we will continue to enjoy this series.