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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Paranormal Activity (review)

Not So Scary

So I finally saw this Paranormal Activity flick that all the kids are into today, and all I could conclude was, Really? They think this is pants-wetting scary? My fellow professional film watchers seem to think so, too, which is — heh — truly frightening. Hyperbole is, perhaps, the most prominent stock in trade for film critics, but I’m sorta mystified to see comments like “it’s the sleeper hit that makes audiences too petrified to ever sleep again” and “one of the scariest movies in years… absolutely bone-chilling” and “the faint of heart need not apply.”

Cuz, far as I could see, Activity is about as terrifying as an amusement park spook house: you know, the kind in which fake skeletons pop out at you from obvious nooks in the wall and spray-can spiderwebs drip over your head in an attempt to freak you out. Which is to say: It does indeed sometimes offer a momentary cheap fright, the kind that instantly makes you laugh at yourself for being taken in by it. And it’s true: it must also be said that this makes Activity scarier than most of what passes for cinematic “horror” these days. But have none of these folks peeing their pants and unable to sleep at night seen, say, The Exorcist? Or Alien? Or Open Water? Or Cronenberg’s The Fly? Or Poltergeist, the movie to which Activity owes its biggest nod, even bigger than the oft-cited Blair Witch Project? (Not to mention movies less conventionally considered “horror,” such as Threads and A Clockwork Orange.) Does no one else see that the few genuinely creepy and original moments here are so few and far between that this would have been far more intriguing as a YouTube short, boiling those moments down to a snappy 30 minutes or so, than as a feature film?

I applaud filmmaker Oren Peli, honestly I do, for making a film as effective and as inventive as this one is — and for one striking such a chord with audiences, even if I don’t entirely agree with them — for less than the cost of a cheap car. This is a smack that Hollywood so richly deserves, a reminder that successful movies, even by the not-art measure of money, are not about CGI and overpaid movie stars and preposterous exaggeration but about things far simpler and far more down-to-earth than that. Perhaps the most effective element of Activity is its setting: Peli shot in his own San Diego home, as mundane a location as a haunted house movie has even capitalized on, to ramp up the scariness. Much of what makes the movie works, where it does — as 20something couple Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) cope with the vicious, invisible entity that is torturing them — is the notion that this really could be your home, this blandly decorated, not-Hollywood tract house. This is an ordinary house — oh, so ordinary — and Katie and Micah are oh-so ordinary people, which includes being so annoying and irrational that mostly you want to smack them, and it all makes the nonsense of demonic haunting at least somewhat more plausible.

Katie’s been bothered by this demon all her life, wherever she’s lived: a psychic (Mark Fredrichs) tells her, “You cannot run from this — it will follow you,” which eliminates the one obvious solution to most haunted house stories, the Get Out solution. Micah’s a techno geek who is getting a bit of a thrill out of setting up his camcorder to watch what happens when they sleep and watching the results the next morning (and yes, he jokes about letting the camcorder record other aspects of their relationship in the bedroom; it would have been unbelievable if he didn’t). That’s smart stuff, from a storytelling perspective. And it’s enough to make the movie worth seeing, though perhaps not worth paying multiplex prices for. In fact, it might even be scarier were you to watch it on your own TV, in your own living room, with your house or apartment building creaking and moaning and making all those weird noises that any building unavoidably makes.

The entire film consists of what Micah’s camcorder captures — weird noises in the middle of the night, hanging lighting fixtures swinging for no good reason, and so on — and this 21st-century take on cinema verité is all sorts of appropriate, authentic, and inevitable: from reality TV to YouTube to just how we all goof around with making our own instant cinema with our geek toys these days, there was no way in hell — heh — that we weren’t going to see a movie like this one from a filmmaker coming outta nowhere. Yeah, Cloverfield did something similar last year, though it was aping what Activity is, with its Hollywood-sized budget and subject matter, not an actual example of it. (Blair Witch, 10 years ago, was even less like either film, and more like the put-on of a mockumentary; that is, it’s more deliberate in feel, and less spontaneous.) Still, Cloverfield is a far better film than Paranormal Activity, which could serve as a reminder to filmmakers like Peli who think to storm the stronghold of Hollywood: Just because the studios have given in to excess of late doesn’t mean their successes don’t have lessons to teach. Telling a gripping story is still the most important thing a movie must do. Just because some movies can’t do that with an overload of FX doesn’t mean that a movie lacking them automatically does, either.


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Paranormal Activity (2009)
US/Can release: Sep 25 2009
UK/Ire release: Nov 25 2009

MPAA: rated R for language
BBFC: rated 15 (contains strong language and threat)

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Oh well. I feel like that last thriller I saw in the theaters might have been Aliens. It seems like almost anything that classifies itself as a thriller over the last 20 years goes the gross-out route. But, I don’t want to be bored either. If I thought Cloverfield was overrated, I’m probably not going to like Paranormal Activity.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Crap. I was so hoping this wasn’t just A Haunting in movie form. Which is more cheesy and irrational than scary.

  • Nihilio

    Well, haven’t seen the movie yet, but the spannish [REC] was a pretty good shaking-camera horror.

  • Mathias

    This was a great scary movie. I thought it laid waste to the horror genre’s offerings this past decade.

    The scariest film i’ve ever seen in theaters.

  • MaryAnn

    The scariest film i’ve ever seen in theaters.

    How old are you, Mathias? I’m not being snide. I’m just suspecting that you must be very young, or don’t go to the movies very often.

  • mellisa

    i completely agree im a younger kid and this movie SUCKED. i wasted my money you sit there for about 80 minutes and then the last 10 minutes come and you get once scream. I have had scarrier things happen to my life. I hated it and would never recommned it IT PISSED ME THE TRUCK OFFF. SHITTTIEST MOVIE EVER >:O

  • Lisa

    I think that you have to go into movies like these with an open mind you have to want to be scared / be a fan of this genre

    a momentary cheap fright in a cinema will probably do well enough for me – i scare easy in the dark!

    the last time I got freaked out by anything was the Dr Who episode Midnight (was on tv in the uk last night!) just the look on the Doctor’s face as he’s being dragged to his death / the strange way he’s speaking it just makes me feel very claustrophobic

    I didn’t think the Blair Witch project was scary but it did have the great shot at the end where the guy was just standing there with his face to the wall

    Cloverfield was a good laugh tho I was like die yuppie scum die all the way thru it lol

  • Jenna

    Paranormal Activity was horrifying!

    The last theatre movie that scared me was Blair Witch Project and that creeped me out only a little, the last scene in particular.

    I was exhausted after watching Paranormal … there’s no relief from the tension you will feel.

    You’ve probably heard already that a lot of the terror comes from what you don’t see and that’s true. I would guess that many people have an imagination that if prompted can go to darker places than anything they can show on screen.

    Also liked that this movie involved a demon. Not much is known or has been investigated about demons because they are too evil to get near. A lot of my fear came from the unknown … what the hell is this thing capable of doing?!?!?

    Higly recommend this movie, but see with someone you can hold on to.

  • Mathias

    Actually MaryAnn, i’m 23. I’ve loved horror movies when i was a kid but someting happened when i hit puberty. They just didn’t do it for me anymore.
    Mostly ‘cuz 99% of the time the genre forgets to make us care about the would be victims.

    This film didn’t forget that. I was surprised by how much i liked this young couple and wanted to see them make through it all okay, which only made this scariers for me. ;)

    I haven’t seen a horror film in theaters in almost a decade, i think it was Ginger Snaps in 2000. But i do go very often. I’m just not a horror fan anymore.

  • Mathias

    Damn, i wish this site had an edit feature.

    I’m tired of proof reading my words carefully, only to find that my grammar now resembles that of a 12 year old girl once i hit “post”.

    Gotta work on my proof reading i guess.

  • @Mathias Grammatical mistakes aside, it’s nice to see people who can answer a question without being offended. “I liked this movie because I cared about the characters and what happened to them, and that made it scary to me” (basically) is such a nice change from some of the trolls her who post, “YU DISAGREE WITH ME FUK YUO U SUK”. B)

  • And something about my browser at work (which I can’t change or adjust since all options are locked) only lets me see half the comment box at a time, making proofreading really difficult, so please excuse my own grammatical/spelling/typing errors. B)

  • Mathias

    We all know that movies are subjective. When we sit down to watch a film, we’re bringing a lifetime of experience with us as baggage. I believe horror movies are even more so.

    I wondered long and hard about why this film spooked me more than Alien, The Exorsist, Open Water, The Fly, Potergeist and yes even Jaws ever did. I think i know. It spoke to my specific fears. I’m not saying that i fear invisible demons more than sharks, aliens and demonic possesion but that i brought the specific lifetime baggage necessary to yeild the maximum amount of creeps from it.

    When i was a kid, i was afraid of the dark. Yeah, i know that can be said for 99% of kids, but i’m pretty sure that my case was an outlier. I can remember one specific night in either 94 or 95, where i was convinced that something had crawled out from my closet and was standing at the side of my bed breathing hard. I had my back turned to it of course, staring out the window paralyzed with fright for the majority of the night. Only when the first rays of light peeked through did i gather up the courage to turn around and find…….nothing.

    It wasn’t until almost high school when i finally conquered this fear. Something about the dark, something about 2:00 or 3:00 am, when the world seems dead and empty, that sparks the imagination to go into overdrive. Where every shadow, every object and every sound seems to be conspiring against you. Where you’re only safe under your blanket and you better make sure that said blanket is tucked in tight, lest something grabs your leg like poor Katie found out in this film.

    But this film isn’t perfect, specificlly, i have three problems with it. The fact that they never leave (i’m sorry, but if what happened to Katie happened to me, you couldn’t keep me in that house if you had an assault rifle.), the gullibility of the boyfriend before the final scene and the final shot that was way too hollywood for this very un-hollywood film.

    Regardless of these faults, brilliance of this movie, for me anyhow, was the way it brought me back to my childhood. I loved how it gave me just enough for my mind to fill in the blanks with horrific images and thoughts no filmmaker could ever compete with. The fact that this guy did it all with just one camera and $11,000 just blows me away.

  • Bernadette Bosky

    I’d hate to think that people–including you, Laurie–would forgo this movie because of this review. I’m a veteran critic of horror fiction and movies, and I think it’s one of the best films in a decade, perhaps decades.

    Anyone with a CGI budget can do in-theater scares that make you jump; skill is needed to make something creepy in a way that, well, haunts you for days after, making the whole world a more sinister place. PA did that for me.

    It’s the setting, the somewhat ordinary-looking couple (the woman especially, pretty but not a screen-babe in a way that says THIS IS A MOVIE), the mostly-minor events (all of which I had read about in actual paranormal case studies). Cloverfierld–phht, a roller-coaster ride, but outside the theater, you know it’s all fiction and–well, so what? Poltergeist? One of my favorites, but less effective, in fact just gross, when the protagonist is bobbing in a mud-trough of corpses. That’s not going to happen.

    With Paranormal Activity, my intellect knew the movie was a fake, but my lizard-brain did not. The days after the movie, its effects GREW on me. Few directors but Romero have been able to do that to me. It’s a significant accomplishment.

  • tomservo

    I’m a 36 year old horror movie freak, and this movie scared the shit out of me. I guess I must be some kind of ignorant peasant lacking the cultural sophistication of New York intellectuals.

  • Kim

    Scary movies are the most subjective of all, I think – you can assume that people all have fears in common, but I scare very very easily (I was petrified of the dark until I was about 25) and even then the Blair Witch Project didn’t scare me at all. Poltergeist completely freaked me out, though, and don’t most people think of that film as a bit of a joke?

  • tomservo

    They are very subjective and people who project their opinions about another person based on their like/dislike of said subjective film need to check themselves..
    Personally, I love horror movies, but rarely do I get scared by them. For some reason, movies like PA or other ghost/paranormal films (early naught J-horror were the best) give me the willies.

  • Sarah

    It’s such a cheap answer, but I truly think fright is in the eye of the beholder. MaryAnn, you’ve never been a homeowner (I’m guessing, since you live in New York City), maybe you’ve never been married. Maybe this movie would frighten someone in a different lifestyle more than you, the same way a movie like, say, Taxi Driver might frighten a city dweller more than someone who lived in the country.

    I have always had a problem with corpses that move. Not zombies, emphatically not zombies. But a corpse, a dead thing that flops or twitches, just scares the hell out of me. So even though I’ve seen a lot of J-horror and classic horror, the ‘scariest’ movie I’ve ever seen was the American remake of The Ring. Why? Because of that girl in the closet who was dead and her head fell over. Fear isn’t logical, so it’s hard to evaluate subjectively.

  • Accounting Ninja

    They are very subjective and people who project their opinions about another person based on their like/dislike of said subjective film need to check themselves..

    tomservo, you might want to check yourself, then…

    I guess I must be some kind of ignorant peasant lacking the cultural sophistication of New York intellectuals.

    Just sayin’.

  • tomservo

    Hey, I’m just standing up for my peeps.

  • LaSargenta

    We have time for some wood…(refer to the monty python thread if that missed you)

    And here we have Eddie Izzard on horror films: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4yrL6rc6bU

  • MaryAnn

    Also liked that this movie involved a demon. Not much is known or has been investigated about demons because they are too evil to get near.

    Oh, honey, not much is known about demons because there’s no such thing as demons.

    MaryAnn, you’ve never been a homeowner (I’m guessing, since you live in New York City), maybe you’ve never been married.

    No, I’ve never been married — though I don’t see what that has to do with anything, since the couple in the movie is not married either — and I’ve never owned a house. But I’ve lived in a house. In fact, everywhere I’ve lived for the past 15 years has been “house.” Does being under the thrall of a mortgage make a difference?

    skill is needed to make something creepy in a way that, well, haunts you for days after, making the whole world a more sinister place.

    Agreed. But *PA* did not do this for me.

    I’m a 36 year old horror movie freak, and this movie scared the shit out of me. I guess I must be some kind of ignorant peasant lacking the cultural sophistication of New York intellectuals.

    Hmm. So, what, specifically, tomservo, did you find so scary? Can you explain it to me?

  • tomservo

    I know someone has said this before, but it seemed so real. Intellectually, I knew it was entirely fiction, but my visceral response overwhelmed any safe places my mind could come up with. I wasn’t sitting there thinking, “I’m watching a cheaply made exercise in hackneyed manipulation,” but feeling like I was experiencing the same terror the characters were.

  • Kate

    hey maryann, (lovely name by the way) can you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that demons do not exist?

  • bjork

    Hey, Kate, can you prove that demons do exist? Or is that a matter of faith being enough, but science never so?

    I’d not heard of this movie until a week ago, and I cannot say if it would or would not appeal to me. A couple of the posters divulged a little too much, so PA can wait until Netflix.

  • Kate

    bjork (really your name?) I responded to maryann who had a snide comment for Jenna … “Oh honey… demons do not exist.” Don’t start an argument unless you can back up what you say. Jenna didn’t say demons are real or not real, just that not much is know about them.

  • Brad

    How much does faith influence how people react to horror movies, I wonder. I know that my mom, for example, is unfazed by any supernatural goings-on at all. Some movies might startle her, which sadly is what passes for “horror” so often, but none has ever scared her. She’s strongly christian and firmly believes “The dead do not cross over”, as she likes to quote (or paraphrase), so the idea of ghosts and ghouls just doesn’t occur to her. A hem-hawing agnostics like myself isn’t so sure, so I’m willing to accept the idea for at least the run of the movie. I should ask my mom what she believes about demons, I don’t recall her saying.

    Sadly my local theater has decided not to show this as yet, in favor of holding over the latest Tyler Perry thing and some awful-sounding flick called Opa. I was seriously looking forward to the movie too, I enjoyed both BWP and Cloverfield and PA seems to be along the same lines.

  • Mathias

    Hey Kate, not much is known about the giant invisible flying spaghetti monster either.

    And Jenna, once you do your research on demons, come back and tell us all about Bigfoot & Unicorns too.

  • Kate

    mathias, you’re not the brightest bulb huh? it’s like trying to reason with a 3 year old. did jenna say that they do exist? no. why can’t she post a comment without an insulting response from someone that has nothing to contribute?

  • Tim1974

    I saw this film and enjoyed it. I liked the style that was used with the couple filming it themselves. I did not find that it was as scary as some have stated. It was not the scariest film I have ever seen but I found it be good entertainment. It kept some tension and provided some fright without all the gore and blood. For me, the technical aspects of film have no importance. I just enjoyed seeing it and that is all that matters. I would suggest it to anyone who likes a good scary show without the typical blood, guts, and violence of the horror genre of today.

  • Erik

    Although I can understand the point of view of the review, based on some of the comments made by the author, it seems as though they are trying far too hard to not like this movie.

  • Mathias

    @ Kate: It’s obvious that Jenna believes Demons exist, otherwise why would she be interested in and seek out research on them?

    Do you agree with her Kate? What do you believe? And why are you placing the onus of proof on the person who refutes the exist of these made-up creatures rather than the person who makes this claim in the first place?

  • Vardulon

    Maryanne-

    It’s good to discover that I’m not alone in wondering why this movie has been so overrated. I went to see it without knowing anything (other than its purported terrifyingness) and was surprised at how ‘meh’ I found the whole experience.

    Of course, my complaints mostly had to do with how stupidly the main characters were acting.

  • frigidcanuck

    call me crazy, but it seems to me until you’re actually in the situation you really can’t determine if a person is acting stupidly. Granted, yes, I do agree that in some instances the solution to the problem is to simply run, however, some don’t own that kind of capacity. Having been in danger myself, I’ve seen people lock up for the most ridiculous things. I believe this is one of those times.

  • MaryAnn

    hey maryann, (lovely name by the way) can you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that demons do not exist?

    Seriously, Kate: Are you kidding?

    You really do not want to get into a debate over the existence of demons (or Santa Claus, or unicorns, or God) with the readers of this web site. Or with me.

  • MaryAnn

    Although I can understand the point of view of the review, based on some of the comments made by the author, it seems as though they are trying far too hard to not like this movie.

    Yup, that’s what it is, Erik. You’ve hit the nail on the head. I sat through the whole movie secretly enjoying it to the hilt, but I’d already determined to write a less than 100 percent positive review. Just because.

    It’s how I work all the time. Anyone can tell you that.

  • nunyabiz84

    Wow that last scene was frightening.
    But other than that… Was I watching the same movie as everyone else? That was a godawful, boring mess that was poorly put together and tiring to watch.
    I kept waiting and waiting for these allegedly “terrifying” moments that never happened. Like others have said, the characters are annoying. The boyfriend is just an immature, inconsiderate prick, and the girl is a whiny and even more boring version of Pam from The Office.
    I normally LOVE horror movies and would consider myself easily scared. I’m not hard to please whatsoever. But I have to admit that I felt exhausted and utterly disappointed after enduring this awful, terribly flawed film. The only thing that scares me here is that people must be growing stupider to rave in complete seriousness about such a cinematic flop.

  • Jenna

    Mathias-if you must keep posting, please show some intelligence.

  • pissedoffviewer

    It has been over a week since I have seen this lame movie and I am still pissed. The movie was absolutely WHACK. I can’t believe i fell for the hype. A couple of loud noises that made you slightly jump and that is suppose to make it one of the scariest movies off all time?????I don’t think so. Me along with more than half the theater yelled “boooooo” and “I want my money back at the end”…WHAT A RIP OFF!!!!

  • MaryAnn

    Jenna wrote:

    Mathias-if you must keep posting, please show some intelligence.

    Jenna, I’m afraid it’s you who is demonstrating a lack of attention to reason and rationality. If you really are going to make the extraordinary claim that demons exist, you’re going to have to show some evidence of it, just as someone who claimed that Santa Claus existed would be laughed at unless he had some solid proof of such a claim.

  • Basically I’ve found similar comments (didn’t think it was all that scary) from a few friends who thought this was a well made ultra-low budget film, were happy with how well it’s doing (mostly because of that low budget, not in spite of it) but didn’t get all freaked out. But I sure did.
    Basically it all comes down to one thing: they don’t believe in ghosts/demons/afterlife/etc and I do. I tend to get spooked pretty easy, too, so my disbelief didn’t even need to be suspended, cause I believe. I can turn down a hallway with the lights off and my hair stands on end trying to focus into the darkness. Years and years of reading Stephen King and living in old houses I guess.
    What gets me is how often people are tossing the word “boring” at the movie. I’m wondering what the root of that is; I’m guessing decades of ultra-slick fast-paced Hollywood have taken their toll on our patience. I felt it was important to the movie’s pace to set up the protagonists as “normal” people, meaning most of us don’t live a life of break-neck hilarity/action; if these people had, the haunting of their home wouldn’t have been nearly as believable.

  • Umm, The Exorcist was not scary. Shocking? Yes, but not scary. However, Alien was paralyzing.

    I have not seen Paranormal Activity yet, but it is the scariest film ever. According to a blogger, it is the most frightening movie since Sorority Row.

    IMHO, Hitchcock’s Psycho is the most terrifying film of all time. But what do I know, I am only 26.

  • H

    That funny, because for me it was absolutely opposite. After Alien I just lost an appetite for few hours. After Exorcist I had nightmares for few weeks.

  • CB

    I know it’s pretty futile to try to glean a movie’s worth from its trailers (kinda sad statement by itself), but all I saw in the trailers for this movie was what appeared to be a bunch of reaction shots to startles. And I’m going to be blunt – I don’t just hate startles, I resent them. Because yes I can be startled, and yes it makes my heart pump and my adrenaline rush, but they aren’t scary, not in themselves and certainly not the anticipation of an obvious upcoming startle. Instead it’s the director just abusing instinctual physiology to make me ape the sensation of fear. It’s cheap, basically.

    The scariest part of Blair Witch was as noted the end with the guy standing with his nose in the corner. We know he’s mimicking what the victims of the serial killer were made to do, but why? Freaky as can be. The sudden hit-from-behind on the girl’s head? Not scary, and totally expected. In The Ring, when Samara comes out of the TV, it’s not sudden or shocking, it’s slow and purposeful. It’s the unnatural way she moves and the fel malice radiating from her even though you can’t see her features. When she then suddenly appears right beside her victim, it’s not scary because it’s shocking, but because it means he can’t run from her she’s right there and he’s going to die!

    Alien had its fair share of startles, but actually for most of them you were allowed to know the alien was there prior to the attack, so it was suspenseful, not randomly startling. The whole movie was about building suspense; it takes more than half the movie doing it before anything ‘scary’ happens. And what could have been the biggest startle of all, the chest-burster scene, was actually drawn out in slow motion and everything. It was legitimately horrifying, surprise or no.

    Though to be fair, Ridley Scott did abuse the startle to get a reaction in that scene, in this case startling the actors by not telling them exactly how much blood was going to be spewing from the dummy on the table. :)

    Anyway, my point is, it takes a lot of work to make a startle more than a cheap thrill, a movie full of startles is a movie full of cheap tricks to me, and this one doesn’t sound like a lot more. Couple haunted by a poltergeist I mean demon just doesn’t sound like the setup for a prolonged creep scare.

    I could be wrong, I admit. But these days I’m not going to spend the scratch to find out if my gut instinct is wrong. Maybe I’ll take MaryAnn’s suggestion and watch it at home sometime.

    P.S.

    I have not seen Paranormal Activity yet, but it is the scariest film ever.

    LOL. I’m convinced.

  • MaryAnn

    Basically it all comes down to one thing: they don’t believe in ghosts/demons/afterlife/etc and I do.

    One shouldn’t need to believe in demons for *PA* to work any more than one should need to believe in hobbits for *LOTR* to work.

  • tomservo

    One shouldn’t need to believe in demons for *PA* to work any more than one should need to believe in hobbits for *LOTR* to work

    Though your statement has all the validity of intellectual consistency and, respecting your critical skills, I’m way out of my element, I have to dissent. It’s a matter of perspective. LOTR is a great work of art, to be sure but PA is an entirely different matter. I don’t know about demons or the afterlife, but I know a couple of rational, non-flakey people who swear up and down that freaky shit has happened in their homes which seems to have no explanation. Perhaps it’s all crap, but the possibility is still there. That alone fucks w/ me, much less a film that follows the same kind of experience.

  • Why does everyone on here try so hard to write intelligently? Pretentious much?

  • One shouldn’t need to believe in demons for *PA* to work any more than one should need to believe in hobbits for *LOTR* to work.

    Well, now that does make sense, except I don’t think all the weird crap I’ve seen in spooky places in the world were hobbits. Maybe it was all my mind playing tricks on me with the use of neural responses to rushes of adrenaline caused by now almost unnecessary instincts at being in dark places, or maybe faulty electrical wiring, but I’d only fear for my tobacco if hobbits were around. I sometimes get paralyzed by the dark. So pyschological problems or real spirits from beyond, either way to me it’s real.

    Now, these things all -could- only exist in our imagination, but my imagination doesn’t simply “turn off”. It’s probably the most constant thing in my life. So it’s probably a stretch for someone who tries to approach the creative side of their brain rationally to understand that, but if ghosts/demons/spooks/whatever exist in my mind,then they exist all the same.

    Hmm, this makes perfect sense to me, but I’m sure it isn’t coming across right.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Why does everyone on here try so hard to write intelligently? Pretentious much?

    If you can’t hack writing intelligently or reading thoughtful responses without equating it with pretention, this isn’t the place for you, Douchebag.

    Oh, sorry, did I use too many big words?

  • CB

    One shouldn’t need to believe in demons for *PA* to work any more than one should need to believe in hobbits for *LOTR* to work.

    Exactly. I don’t believe in Evil Psychic TV Girls, but The Ring scared the poop out of me. I don’t believe in H.R. Giger paintings come to life on a distant exoplanet, but Alien scared me. And so on. :)

  • Tim1974

    I find that there are many people who believe that introducing and using a wigi board in their home would bring about some form of negative energy. Whether that is a demon or not I would assume is left up to the individual to decide. I don’t believe I have ever heard any positive stories from use of the wigi board.

  • CB

    Here’s a positive portrayal of the use of a ouji board:

    http://pbfcomics.com/?cid=PBF220-Passed_On.jpg

    FYI, that comic is pretty work-safe, but others are not.

  • MaryAnn

    I find that there are many people who believe that introducing and using a wigi board in their home would bring about some form of negative energy. Whether that is a demon or not I would assume is left up to the individual to decide. I don’t believe I have ever heard any positive stories from use of the wigi board.

    Might as well say:

    I find that there are many people who believe that accidentally spilling salt in their home and not throwing a pinch over your shoulder would bring about some form of negative energy. Whether that is true or not I would assume is left up to the individual to decide. I don’t believe I have ever heard any positive stories from the accidental spilling of salt.

  • Tim1974

    And where in the film did someone spill salt and/or throw it over their shoulder ?

  • Accounting Ninja

    Tim doesn’t understand analogy. Quite literal, he is. Like an autistic robot with crippling OCD.

  • Tim1974

    I understand analogies but this one doesn’t make any sense. I have never heard of there being any negative elements from spilling salt and then not tossing some over your shoulder. I have, however, heard of negative elements from a wigi board being brought in and used but have never heard of someone saying anything about positive elements resulting from using it. As for the film, it was mentioned that bringing in a wigi board was not a good idea because the female believed it could allow a portal for negative energy to enter. Was it the reason for their problems or just an excuse for what happened ? Individuals make their own judgments. But, in either case, I enjoyed the film for what it was- entertainment.

  • Accounting Ninja

    The only time I’ve ever heard the “ouiji boards are demonic gateways” thing is on paranormal themed shows like A Haunting, Most Haunted, Ghost Adventures, etc. These shows don’t even allow for the possibility of skepticism, they jump past that. Ghosts and demons exist, end of story. Now, let’s move on to the show…
    Anyhoo, here in non tv land, I don’t believe in ghosts, demons or superstitions. While I think they can make very entertaining stories, and I like paranormal-themed movies and shows, to me demons ARE on the same level as salt-spilling superstition. Or merry little elves. Or whatever. Bad juju is a supposedly supernatural phenomenon, right?

  • MaryAnn

    Tim1974: Ouiji boards are superstitious nonsense. Throwing spilled salt over your shoulder to prevent bad luck is superstitious nonsense. Maybe you’ve never heard of such behavior, but it’s a real belief some people have.

  • Tim1974

    I don’t believe in such superstitions either. However, the point I was trying to make is that, yes, it is a real belief for some people.

  • Gia

    I saw this movie last night, and was extremely disappointed. It was not scary in the least – I may have gasped a few times, but mostly I just spent my time laughing at it. We went home and rented ‘Drag Me to Hell’ from Red Box instead…much better choice.

  • Dr John

    Let me break the tie on this movie(because i KNOW my opinion is RIGHT!)

    #1. This movie truly sucked.
    #2. This movie was NOT scary(just ask my 11 year-old daughter who I took to see this because of her love of scary movies—and no, I do not take her to the ‘Saw’-type ones)
    #3. Is now in my top 3 all-time “Worst Movies” along with “Blairwitch Project’ and ‘Ishtar’

  • CB

    Ouiji boards are superstitious nonsense. Throwing spilled salt over your shoulder to prevent bad luck is superstitious nonsense. Maybe you’ve never heard of such behavior, but it’s a real belief some people have.

    The fun thing about ouiji boards is that they’re very easy for credulous people to believe in, because they do “work” after a fashion, by subconsciously turning your thoughts/wishes into motor control signals. “Oh my god, it’s moving without me moving it!” Except of course you are. That’s why it only “works” when you touch it.

    I discovered this at an early age with a ouiji board at my grandmother’s house. Actually, I discovered it with a companion toy that came in the same box. It was nothing but a pendulum, and a board with two perpendicular lines, one marked “yes” and the other “no”, and a circle marked “maybe”. You held the pendulum above the board and asked a yes/no question. The “spirits” would answer by making the pendulum swing along the appropriate line. Spooky!

    Well I pretty quickly noticed that it always answered what I expected it to. Then I figured out that I could change the answer I got by just thinking “yes” or “no” and make it swing however I want even though I was holding the pendulum perfectly still! Except of course I wasn’t; it’s impossible to hold your hand perfectly still. It’s always moving slightly, and without consciously thinking about it my brain was guiding those tiny movements.

    It’s the same with the ouiji board. They do “work”, but in the same way as Cold Reading — it’s a trick that preys upon the participant’s desire for it to be true, and to hear what they want to hear. Only this is a kind of cold reading they do to themselves.

    But it’s still kinda neat in my opinion. :)

  • Mark

    ‘Oh, honey, not much is known about demons because there’s no such thing as demons.’

    MaryAnn,i dont know about Demons but i did live in an haunted house for a few years.We had a ghost.Hard to believe for some but there you go..

  • Mark

    I did enjoy the movie too.:-).

  • MaryAnn

    Define “haunted,” Mark. Define “ghost.”

  • Paul

    I find objections to intellectual communication interesting and requiring different responses. For example, in high school I was explaining something to another student and she said, “If I don’t understand what you said, it doesn’t do me any good.” So in such circumstances, such as helping people with their homework, I pitch my vocabulary to my audience. On the other hand, some professors are dissatisfied if you speak using clear, plain language, expecting you to learn their jargon and to write so that you can write on any topic in a way that allows you to keep three professors happy with your thesis despite they’re being bitter enemies.

  • doa766

    maybe I’m a little late to this but I just saw this movie

    I can’t believe people think this is scary, I remember watching Blair Witch with friends when I was a teenager and we were pretty scared, here nothing, just boredom, maybe I’m too grown up for this sorta thing and I’m 27

    maybe teenagers or kids would find this scary but I find it hard to believe any adult could be scared by it

    then again I also find it hard to believe that adult, reasonable people could believe in angels, demons, ghost or God, and they do, so you never know

    loved the new Avatar trailer though

  • tomservo

    Psst, doa766, just because you don’t understand the appeal of PA does not mean you are a superior human being than those that do.

  • Will

    MaryAnn, stuff you mentioned are just shlock, cheap scares. This movie was drama. You gradually learned that things had been happening. You then begin to wonder when you will notice something. To each their own, but I really liked it. It wasn’t gore. It wasn’t a roller coaster ride of scares. It was slowing building, suspense, anticipation, atmosphere.

  • Mark

    ‘Define “haunted,” Mark. Define “ghost.”‘

    We had an old man who lived with us that wasnt human.He was spotted by numerous people in bedrooms, on the landing and walking into the bathroom!

    When we bumped into the previous owners about 2yrs after we purchased the house the first thing they said to us is ‘have you seen the ghost yet’.They’d seen him and even their children had seen him in one of their bedrooms!(although this was never mentioned on purchase!)

    He didnt interact and maybe scenes can be replayed from the past under certain conditions.Im not claiming to have any answers.BUT do you think EVERYONE who have had such experiences are either imagining it or making it up?!!

  • Bill

    “BUT do you think EVERYONE who have had such experiences are either imagining it or making it up?!!” – Mark

    Yes.

  • Mark

    :-) :-).

    Ok Bill thats is the only logical response.Though dare i say the odds are against that statement.:-).

  • MaryAnn

    BUT do you think EVERYONE who have had such experiences are either imagining it or making it up?!!

    Or misinterpreting something completely ordinary.

  • Mark

    Perhaps people do misinterpret and in some cases makes things up or imagine/hear things that arent there.

    BUT this was a figure seen in broad daylight by around a dozen people.I just dont see the logic in how everyone can be lying or misinterpreting such relatively common phenomena.

    I respect people can have differing views,it was just your ‘oh hunny’ response to another poster that kinda provoked my response.:-).

  • JoshB

    You respect that people can have differing views?

    Sigh.

    Mark, either ghosts exist or they don’t. Someone here has correct views and someone has incorrect views. The incorrect views deserve no respect.

    But if you’re so convinced of your views then head on over here and win yourself a million dollars.

  • Mark

    :-) :-).

    Josh ‘BIG sigh’

    I suspect your trying to link me to James Randi’s challenge(even though ive not clicked on your link):-).So,can you please show me in my posts were ive claimed to have psychic abilities?!:-).

    Im just pointing out i and others have observed phenomena.:-).There’d be a clear difference between the two id have thought.:-).

    I know people who dont believe in such stuff so see little point in arguing.The respect of views was my way of wording it.:-).

    Hope this clears it up.:-).

  • JoshB

    we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event

    Pwned. Betcha don’t have a response for that.

  • Mark

    ‘At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The JREF does not involve itself in the testing procedure, other than helping to design the protocol and approving the conditions under which a test will take place. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful, will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives’

    Nicely edited Josh but lets have the full statement.

    A house i dont own anymore and an event i cant control for the timing of the cameras.Plus i cant move the event to a different observation point.

    I dont think ive even claimed otherwise.Please point it out in any of my posts if i have.:-).

  • JoshB

    an event i cant control for the timing of the cameras

    Sure you can. LSD, man. I’m sure Randi’s million smackeroos will cover it.

  • Mark

    :-).

    Given up on the argument eh Josh.:-).

  • StevenM

    Wow. Only, like, 10% of these comments have anything to do with the movie. I saw the original version, not the theatrical one, and I thought it was pretty good. Not pants-wettingly scary, surely, but much creepier than the torture-porn that passes for “horror” nowadays. To paraphrase a line from the movie; it scared my inner child. The original ending is a lot more reserved and, I found, more intellectually satisfying than the theatrical ending, which was viscerally satisfying but ultimately felt like a populist conceit to genre conventions. My younger brother found it so boring he nearly fell asleep, though. It was unquestionably derivative of other movies, but moreso of the sleepover-mythos many of us exchanged as kids, which I think is probably key to its getting under the skin of certain people, and leaving others thinking those people must be either stupid or twelve or both.

    As to the reality of ghosts and demons and whatnot, well…
    The problem, as amply demonstrated here, is that most people fall cleanly into the categories:
    A) Cynical and closed-minded
    B) Gullible and mush-minded
    A thinks that if modern science doesn’t acknowledge it then it must not exist, and B thinks that if somebody’s friend’s uncle’s girlfriend’s dog saw it then it must be cold hard fact.
    Adult Bs are by and large lost causes, but A is a natural next step from the B mentality of a young child. A tends to forget that there was a time not so long ago when no self-respecting scientist would have suggested that the Earth was billions of years old or, for that matter, that the Earth revolved around the Sun, or was spherical. Of course no religious mythology can be taken literally, least of all Western, messianic religion, but I think it’s folly to dismiss thousands of years worth of cultural information as so much bed-time story bullshit. Its basis in reality is human psychology, if nothing else, and it deserves some modicum of respect for that alone. That said, fundies need not apply.

    Also, there’s a hell of a lot we still don’t know about ourselves and the way we operate, not to mention the world around us. Of course the burden of proof lies on the party making the claim, and I agree that what are popularly called “ghosts” and “demons” are just the product of rampant imaginations and misinterpretation respectively. But I know from personal experience that there’s more than one way to experience reality, and that ultimately what I call “reality” is simply a phenomena of my brain and nervous system. My experience of reality is four dimensional, but I think it’s entirely possible that I exist in fewer or more dimensions in ways that would seem completely alien to my four dimensional consciousness. Likewise, I think it’s possible that beings exists with awareness native to fewer or greater dimensions who wittingly or otherwise interact with us here in 4D land. Granted, to proffer that what Mark up there saw was in fact a 3 or 8 dimensional being would be an extraordinary claim I couldn’t back up, but I would suggest that just because it’s easier to chalk it up to unreliable witnesses doesn’t mean it’s right. The scientific method can only see as far as the tools it’s using, and inevitably as tools get better, theories change in accordance with the new data. Unfortunately, most scientists lean towards the A category and so most of the “research” done on altered states of existence and paranormal phenomena is left up to the Bs and is, as such, bullshit.

    Shit, this one went kinda long and far out, huh? Anyway, C) = critical/anylitical but open-minded. Not enough Cs in the world.

  • Paul

    Of course, most As and Bs think they are Cs.

    The usefulness of eye witnesses has come under dispute concerning criminal proceedings, which ought to be a more straightful situation than talking about the super or not natural.

    And I got tired of being expected to be open minded about stuff. It’s one of those phrases that has backfired on liberal intellectual elites and now a phrase we used to get Americans to accept people’s rights to live the life they want gets turned on us so we’re supposed to put up with creation science, ghost stories, Holocaust deniers, and the Islamic abuse of women. Or when I told a bunch of guys in college that drinking beer, putting the empties between their legs, and throwing darts at them was stupid, they told me I was “being judgmental.” To which I replied, “That’s what judgment is for.”

    So I am a proud and occassionally pissed off “A” and it makes my thought processes so much easier now that I don’t have reconcile myself to nonsense. Of course, I don’t listen to political speeches very often, either, or advertising, and I’m cold turkey on sermons, and the TV news bores me because there’s 5 minutes of news out of 30 minutes of show, so if you believe in ghosts and feel hurt that my mind is drifting off to something else, like reality, while you talk about them, don’t feel too bad. You’re in very popular company. I wonder if I could even do the math on what a tiny percentage of people whose opinions I do care about is. It might look like a long list of individual names, but on a planet of 6 billion, it must be a small percentage.

  • Mark

    Nice post Paul.

    Without knowing the people and the credibility of the people who witnessed what they have in that house,i do appreciate its difficult to judge.

    From speaking to people though i dont feel my experience is in anyway uncommon.When i worked nights in a warehouse(which used to be an old english mill) when i was younger.I recall on one occasion having to drive one the van drivers home one night because he was shaking so much after encountering what was known as ‘the resident’ ghost.He described it as a ‘white mist’,as did others who encountered it.

    I offer no answers but the sheer number of witnesses i would have thought should push people into your ‘c’ category.

    James Randi’s challenge of proving uncontrollable phenomena under clinical test condition is as easy as dodging raindrops.Science MAY eventually help us here.

  • JoshB

    LOL Mark. Literally, I read your last response and laughed out loud.

    I was never arguing with you. I gave up on that possibility the moment I read that you believe in ghosts. I have been making sport of you from the very beginning.

    And does that seriously make you proud? That people give up on your capacity for reason, and as such you ‘win’ the argument in your own mind?

    It’s no skin off my back if you indulge in fantasies about unicorns and bigfoots. On the contrary, it has entertainment value, and this has been most entertaining.

    Oh and StevenM, count me among the unapologetic A’s.

  • MaryAnn

    As I said before in another thread, I operate under the belief that it’s important to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.

    ultimately what I call “reality” is simply a phenomena of my brain and nervous system.

    Except certain realities — like the age of the Earth and the fact that it revolves around the sun — have absolutely nothing to do with the operation of your brain, StevenM, and will continue to be real after your brain ceases to operate.

  • Mark

    :-):-)

    Thought you’d stopped arguing Joshy.:-).

    Sport!haha.When someone has lost an argument in England,we generally say we were only fishing.

    Nice one Josh you really made me laugh there.:-D.;-)

  • Mark

    MaryAnn.

    I thought Steve made a great post there.Not a lot i disagreed with.

    Halloween as gone now,so maybe time to close the debate.I still really liked the film though.:-).

  • StevenM

    Thanks, Mark. MaryAnne is right about the fact that the cosmos have, and will continue to exist without the help of my nervous system, though. Of course it goes without saying(except for right now, I guess) that without all of our nervous systems and all those leading up to us we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I’m of the opinion that the universe is conscious of itself at some basic level, and has been since long before people, or Earth for that matter. I’ve been accused of being a Taoist, though, and a hippie, so I don’t expect MaryAnne’s opinions to jive with mine too well in this case. :) That’s okay. That’s one of the reasons I like her reviews so much, cause she’s got a good nose for bullshit and she calls ’em like she sees ’em.
    (note: I like to think of myself as a C, but I have A/B moments/days/months. And yeah, it’s perfectly acceptable to not have an open mind for bullshit. I understand the phrase has been abused, and I hate it as much as the next guy/gal when people tell me to keep an open mind about whatever belief system or insane hypothesis they’re pushing.)

    (also *giddy fanboy excitement noises at getting any sort of response from one of his favorite film critics* Wooo! You rule, MaryAnne! Your Tomb Raider review made me spew Vanilla Coke all over my keyboard oh so many years ago. :D

  • CB

    Except certain realities — like the age of the Earth and the fact that it revolves around the sun — have absolutely nothing to do with the operation of your brain, StevenM, and will continue to be real after your brain ceases to operate.

    If you really wanted to wank- I mean wax philosophic you could argue that you cannot prove that this ‘objective’ reality exists, since that knowledge must necessarily come via your senses and interpretation of those senses by your consciousness which may or may not actually exist in the form it believes it does. Just because reality appears to form a self-consistent whole doesn’t mean it is so; it could all be an elaborate ruse by whatever being is hallucinating that I exist.

    Of course even many philosophers admit that line of reasoning is pretty useless. Personally I’ll take my chances on an objective reality being, er, reality. :)

    As I said before in another thread, I operate under the belief that it’s important to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.

    Having an “open mind” means being open to new ideas or new ways of thinking. It doesn’t mean that you must necessarily agree with this new idea, or refrain from concluding after due consideration that the idea is bullshit. “The mark of an educated mind is that it can entertain an idea without accepting it.”

    I’m a very open minded person, and have as a result of considering new ideas changed worldviews several times. If I appear to be an “A” to someone, it’s because I’ve already heard their idea before with an open mind, considered it, and rejected it. Hearing the same stuff again isn’t a new and enlightening idea I should consider, it’s the same crap I considered before that I’d rather not waste my time with when there’s a whole world out there of new ideas.

    Ghosts, demons, psychic phenomenon, homeopathic medicine and others certainly fall in that category. I’ve certainly considered the idea of their reality, but the complete lack of rigorous empirical proof despite ample opportunity to provide it leaves me rather… decided about the idea. I mean maybe some definitive proof will suddenly appear and I’ll change my mind but in the meantime just saying “You should be open to the idea that ghosts are real!” just gets a well-deserved scoff. DARPA spends a lot of money very credulously studying psychics and every other crack-pot scheme that comes by, and they’ve come up with nothing. There’s a reason there’s no PsiCorp, and it’s not due to closed-mindedness on the part of DoD. So… yeah.

  • Paul

    CB: wank vs. wax philosophic. There’s a Freudian slip I can get on board with. I also understand where you’re coming from when it comes to people telling me “new ideas” that I’ve heard dozens of times before. The whole New Age thing is really Old Age philosophy with the un-PC stuff edited out, which is interesting from the point of view of the evolution of religious belief but leads to disappointment when, for instance, American Buddhists talk too much with Asian Buddhists.

    Steven: if you’re looking for reinforcment, there was a slim volume I think called “The Conscious Universe” that tried to use the observer effect of quantum mechanics to prove that the universe is conscious. I think it boiled down to this: a wave of probability does not become a particle of reality unless it is observed, and the universe existed before any possible observers, thus the universe must have been observing itself.

    I’m not enough of a scientist to have any worthwhile opinion on that one way or another.

  • CB

    The whole New Age thing is really Old Age philosophy with the un-PC stuff edited out, which is interesting from the point of view of the evolution of religious belief but leads to disappointment when, for instance, American Buddhists talk too much with Asian Buddhists.

    Heh, I bet.

    I think it boiled down to this: a wave of probability does not become a particle of reality unless it is observed, and the universe existed before any possible observers, thus the universe must have been observing itself.

    I’m not enough of a scientist to have any worthwhile opinion on that one way or another.

    All you really need to know is that the ‘observer effect’ is not in any way accepted in mainstream QM, there is no evidence for it (though admittedly there is no definitive evidence for other interpretations of QM), and is ultimately based on a pun. See, the thing in QM that is significant and which Schrodinger talks about in his famous paper that involves the bizarre mistreatment of a cat, is “measurement”. Convert that to synonym “observation”, which implies an “observer”, and zomg humans can affect the outcome of quantum events by lookin’ at ’em!

    I dunno, it’s possible, and I do like the idea of a “sentient universe” (one possible conception of “God”). But practically speaking, when making something like a quantum computer preventing events that count as “measurement” from happening and collapsing the waveform (long before any human gets around to looking at the result) is quite difficult, that makes it seem unlikely.

    And besides, now that I think about it, if you posit a sentient universe observing itself and making waveforms collapse, then why would one need to propose an Observer Effect in the first place? Huh.

  • StevenM

    :D Nice post there, CB, quite eloquent. Paul, I wouldn’t say I’m looking for reinforcement, being that it’s always seemed a more philosophical issue than scientific to me, but I do prefer to inform my philosophy with science, and I’ll prolly end up reading that book anyway, glutton for words that I am. And, who knows, some day it may indeed be a scientific issue(any singularitarians around here?). I agree that New Age is a total misnomer, and I’ll go further to say that New Agers smell funny. I have to admit to studying Astrology, but I don’t “believe” in it, particularly not as a predictive mechanism. To me it’s a psychological language, a means of description, but you can probably chalk that up to Jungian leanings. “Quantum mechanics” always seemed like a misnomer to me as well, ‘mechanical’ being the last word I’d use to describe the universe’s behavior at the quantum level. Also, in Schrodinger’s thought experiment, the titular cat seems the foil, being that it can surely tell if it is still alive and should therefor be considered an observer. I remember Alan Watts repeating a story from some monk or another who had given a pupil a chicken and told him to go where he couldn’t be seen and kill it. Of course, upon returning with the dead chicken he was informed that he had failed the test. Philosophy might be wanking at times(read: often), but in the right crowd I’d equate it more to an orgy. Who doesn’t like a good orgy?

  • StevenM

    Also, even though I know there’s already waaaaay too many comments dangling from this review, I want to point out that MaryAnne sort of made my point for me up there, my point being that people’s conscious experience of the universe is incredibly limited and ephemeral in content and quality when seen in the light of the whole multi-billion year/light year story of time and space. It demands of us a certain intellectual humility that patronization indicates a lack of. Then again, if she wasn’t snarky, she wouldn’t be the MaryAnne we love to read. :)

  • Hdj

    This movie sucked, thats my review in brief . It wasn’t scary, the moments of scare could have been limited in a youtube video. The filming felt lazy, things that go bump at night isn’t scary. Over all its a waste of time that left me thinking through out the film ” this scene could actually work as scary if they did something else”.

    We get a scene of the boyfriend going in the attic, now instead of focusing on the darkness of the attic opening, what does the attendance get to watch? THE FLOOR yeah… oh the suspense of the floor. Thats just one scene, but this goes on through out the movie.
    I know what the use of quasi amateur film making is used for, to give it a real feel. but the truth of the matter is in the end, it really is a movie and it should be treated like one. Just because a magician isnt David Coperfiend doesn’t mean its ok for them to skip the tricks

  • Rossita – The Cruel One alias Four Thirty

    Maryann I could come and scare you to death this very night in ur sweet New York Apartment, but I won’t! Because in doing so, I would surely give you a heart attack while opening your doubtful eyes to the very real world of demons and hobgoblins. So be really thankful to the dark gods of night that although I am totally cruel, I am also utterly kind. But I must here and now warn you (my sweet), that I am not called “The Cruel One” for nothing. I have danced with hobbits, gremlins, hobgoblins, trolls, and even vicious Garuda (The Demon King) of ancient Japanese fame (Fear Him, and tremble in your beautiful fur lined boots, O wine loving bookish gothic maiden). Out of respect for your blind atheistic faith; which I absolutely respect (because every one in this great country America, is entitled to practice their religion; however misguided it may be, and I am the patron saint of atheism, a religion I gave to this world six thousand years ago), I have decided not to teach you an unforgetable lesson. But be aforewarned O beautiful green eyed, and fiery haired one, if thou persist in denying and mocking the very existence people like me (savage bloodthirsty, and cane wielding monsters); who reign in darkly lit and blood soaked dungeons, over miriads of writhing male slaves (fallen men, who have lost all doubt in the cruel reality of their very torn flesh, about our brutally real existence), you will provoke me into visiting you at night in the very quietness of your pitch dark bedroom, and scaring you into the fervent pain laced belief, of a truely tormented sub… FEAR ME (O Maryann…ooooooooohhhhhhhhh). FEAR ME! FOR I AM DURGA THE GODDESS OF DEATH, MY KISS IS DEATH, MY KISS IS PAIN, MY KISS IS SHAME, AND I AM REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAWOOOOOOOO!

  • Rossita – The Cruel One alias Four Thirty

    Know me, fear me, be me!

  • Rossita – The Cruel One alias Four Thirty

    As a yet to become famous Poet darkly wrote:

    I am the

    “…Lady of Shadows…”

    and I

    “…walk through the night.
    Death is my whisper, lust is my song.
    Ripples of desire, flow through each step.
    As I climb up the stairway, to danger’s sweet realm.

    Flashes of shadow, bold steps of doom.
    Beckon with mockery, and dark eyes agleam.
    Come dark night’s daughter, child of the moon.
    Climb up the stairway, to the pinnacle of the sky.”

    Fear me Maryann, FEAR ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawoooooooooooooooooooooo!

  • will i havent seen paranormal activity yet, but i heard it’s a really scary movie ever. i really wanna see but i have to wait til it come out and dvd…

  • will i havent seen yet, but i heard it’s a really scary movie. i really wanted to see it but i’ll wait til it come out on dvd…

  • CB

    “alias Four Thirty”… So I take it those posts were made 10 minutes after hitting the bong? ;)

  • Alan

    “Still, Cloverfield is a far better film than Paranormal Activity” You completely lost all credibility the moment you said that. You might as well have stopped writing the review…In fact you might as well just stop writing reviews on horror films altogether. Cloverfield is a damn joke compared to this film. The previews of Cloverfield had me going at first…It looked like a nuclear bomb had hit the city and the camera was rolling…I thought it was something like that…No, it turned out to be be nothing more than a Blair Witch-meets-Godzilla movie. Paranormal Activity is actually scary because it makes you wonder…and no one really knows…what happens while you sleep.

    And btw, Paranormal Activity is far more scary than Alien, Open Water, and the The Fly. Know why that is? Because it is plausible. Who encounters violent aliens on a daily basis? Or gets lost out in open sea by a boat full of idiots, or gets turned into a fly? That’s right, NO ONE! But no one knows what happens in your own house while you sleep, this film will hit close to home with a lot of people. Especially people who know the difference between makeshift fear (Alien, The Fly, Open Water yet again) and psychological fear…and this movie got it right on the money.

    People who have good taste in horror films will want to see this movie, they are better off ignoring your insipid review.

  • JoshB

    Paranormal Activity is actually scary

    BWAHAHAHAHA!!!

    I got more entertainment from those five words than the whole movie. Bored. To. Tears.

  • Hdj

    People who thought this movie was scary got no balls

  • Wow. I skimmed this review when it was first posted, and have come back to it since seeing the film last night. I wouldn’t have guessed there’d be a debate about the existence of demons….Huh.

    Anyways, I found the film incredibly scary. I really did. I think the key is that everyone can relate to occasionally being jumpy in one’s own house, reacting to random noises like a fool.

    And like the best of horrors, the scary parts are the things you don’t see. I spent much of the nighttime scenes of PA staring into the shadows, waiting for something to appear.

  • Jurgan

    All right, I’ve been putting off commenting on this for a couple weeks now. This movie got to me in a way that very few horror movies ever have. I’d even put my emotions beyond horror into the realm of terror. Horror makes you fear for your body, but terror makes you fear for your soul.

    But why, you ask, is Jurgan so deeply affected by this trifle of a movie? Well, I’m a fan of good horror movies, but I have high standards for what I like. I can barely stand Friday the 13th and its ilk, but I love the original Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. What’s the key? It’s all about character. Always character first. I admit outright that there’s nothing particularly fearsome about the “scares” themselves in Paranormal Activity. If the movie had followed the exact same plot with a couple of dumb, horny teenagers out of a slasher movie, I would have hated it. But the two characters were so strong and so likeable that I had to root for them. Some people have complained that Micah is actually unlikeable because he arrogantly screws up the situations even worse. Those people miss the point. Yes, Micah is foolish and makes many mistakes, [i]as do we all.[/i] His mistakes are actually so typical of males that I’m surprised more people don’t see the connection. It’s particularly strong for me, though, because the movie works as an almost perfect allegory for my relationship with my wife.

    When we first got together, I didn’t realize that she was carrying a lot of baggage. She had some emotional issues, and I didn’t really know how to deal with them. I knew some of the story, but not the extent to which she was still affected. She had serious depression and I took it the wrong way. “Why do you say everything in your life is bad- what about me?” I cringe when I think of things like that. These issues remind me of Katie’s demon- it was there all along, but she didn’t really tell him about it, and so he was stuck trying to deal with something he wasn’t really prepared for. I’ve had far too many times when I’ve tried to tell my wife what to do to fix whatever’s bothering her. This is actually, I’m told, a common male failing- women talk to their boyfriend/husband/whatever, and what they want is for him to listen and be supportive while they figure out their problems. Often, the man instead assumes it’s his job to fix it, but he’s so aggressive in doing so that it actually makes it worse. I’ve been there countless times, and Micah’s camera, and his Ouija board, and his talcum powder all seem familiar.

    When his attempts to fix it backfire, he takes it personally. The one line I remember vividly was “I didn’t bring this thing into the house- you did.” I cringed when I heard that, and leaned over to give my wife a hug, because that’s exactly what I would have said in that situation. And I would have immediately hated myself for it- just after it was too late to take it back.

    The technical scares were good, but they weren’t the point. I liked the slow-build of the creaking door, and the shadow on the wall, and all the others. Again, though, the dread only works because I care what happened to the characters. I wasn’t cheering for them to die- I hoped they’d make it, and was devastated when I saw how it ended (and no, I didn’t think it was real). The last shot, where Katie’s face morphs, is kind of cheesy. Like I said, the tech isn’t the point. The scariest things for me were Katie’s inexplicable behavior, like getting out of bed and standing by it for hours.

    The single most frightening moment was when Micah goes looking for Katie and finds her in the swing, with no explanation ever given for what she was doing there. My wife has done almost that exact same thing. She’ll do something late at night and not know why she did it, or I’ll find her in another room passed out with no explanation, and sometimes she doesn’t know herself. The end of the movie featured one final, arrogant mistake- the cross-burning. My wife has sometimes dealt with her depression in ways that seem unhealthy to me (I won’t go into details). However, I’ve seen that she has enough control not to do anything seriously dangerous. The point I eventually realized was that she had to do these things to deal with her issues, or else they’d stay bottled up and get worse. Who am I to tell her how to deal with her emotions? Katie tried to exorcise her demon with a cross. It was clearly working, but it was hurting her at the same time. Micah decided it had to be removed, ending her last chance at salvation. Like I say, I’ve been there.

    So, yes, my reasons for liking it were quite personal. Would the average moviegoer be as strongly affected? Of course not- how could (s)he? However, I think many people have been in relationships where one person arrogantly tries to fix problems beyond his control. Seen this way, it is a strong allegory for others, without a doubt. Even if it isn’t, I think there’s something here for most people. I thought The Descent was a very scary movie (probably moreso than PA, objectively speaking), yet I have very little in common with female British spelunkers. I still cared about the characters, which made their situation real to me. PA was therapeutic for me. The problems my wife and I have had are nowhere near as bad as they were, say, five years ago- she’s learned to deal with them, and I’ve learned to be supportive without being overbearing. But the demon still exists, and every now and then it rears its head and I forget how to deal with it. This movie helped me see it for what it is. Maybe it can do the same for others as well.

  • Orangutan

    And btw, Paranormal Activity is far more scary than Alien, Open Water, and the The Fly. Know why that is? Because it is plausible. Who encounters violent aliens on a daily basis? Or gets lost out in open sea by a boat full of idiots, or gets turned into a fly? That’s right, NO ONE!

    OK, Alien and The Fly, those I’m willing to give you. But you may want to read up on Tom and Eileen Lonergan before you go claiming that no one gets lost or left behind in the open sea.

  • amanohyo

    Paranormal Activity is actually scary because it makes you wonder…and no one really knows…what happens while you sleep.

    I just found out what happens when I go to sleep. Millions of Japanese people eat breakfast…and then they eat lunch. And then the probing begins. And then I wake up (If I’m lucky those last two are reversed).

    Just kidding, I know what you mean. I was a sleep walker/talker in my youth, and it is pretty scary if you’re not expecting it. One of my college roommates was seriously terrified by some of my senseless ramblings (I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he did it too sometimes).

    I understand what Alan and Jurgan are saying about the situation being something that many people can relate to easily. It doesn’t mean that the movie will work for everyone or that it doesn’t fail on a multitude of other levels, but it clearly worked for a lot of people, and that’s pretty cool. It’s refreshing to hear about characters in a horror movie that aren’t completely unlikable.

  • Hdj

    I can see how this movie hits home too some people. Its in the same relevance of people who believe in shows like ” Ghost Hunters” , “Paranormal State”, “Psychic Kids” , ” An Haunting” . Shows like that rely on people that buy in to it.
    I’m not an Atheist or agonistic , and I’m not here to poo on the whole existence of ghost and demons. I think its plausible, its all plausible, pictures with orbs, hearing things from time to time, the things we see in the corner of our eye. Lights going out around you, then turning back on . Event strange occurrences like that however ,… its not proof.

    The one thing PA does is work as a gonzo fiction, it takes what “Ghost Hunter”s does and fakes the rest. That can work as a movie , if it was done right. P.A wasn’t done right, there was to many moments where it didn’t seem like the camera was on in times when you naturally turn on a camera. It was done in a lazy fashion. It Works the same way a camp counselor tells a group of cub scouts a scary story with the flashlight under their chin and finishes with ” AND THEN HE GETS YA!”

    Maybe its just me, perhaps I’m just the type of person whos footage you couldn’t use on “Scare Tactics” because I’d be looking for Tracy Morgan to come out and punk me . I wouldn’t believe a thing a tarot card reader told me and I most certainly think that fucking guy James Van Praagh should be thrown in a wood chipper.

    People want a good scare, go in the woods at night, Just take a nice walk in the woods, Bring a jacket, its cold, maybe your see something maybe you won’t. Those senses that tell you there is an animal out there thats about to eat you, thats fear thats horror.

    and another thing,hey heres a marketing strategy,” lets show the best part of the movie in the trailer”. Thats just movie blasphemy. This movies hype will be gone by the time people have crapped out their black tacos

  • Alan

    People who thought this movie was scary got no balls

    People who say ignorant shit like that make it painfully obvious they have something to compensate for.

  • Paul

    Wow, Jurgan, that was a remarkable post. It reminded me a lot of my marriage, except ours didn’t make it. I just ended up in the depression with her, or maybe it was exhaustion, until she walked out on me, which is probably why I never liked the ending of the Robin Williams movie “From Whence Dreams Come” or something like that. It ran too contrary to my experience.

  • MaryAnn

    Jurgan, your interpretation is fascinating and totally plausible. Thank you for it. I’m not married and never have been, so I’m not sure such a perspective would ever have occurred to me.

    And btw, Paranormal Activity is far more scary than Alien, Open Water, and the The Fly. Know why that is? Because it is plausible. Who encounters violent aliens on a daily basis? Or gets lost out in open sea by a boat full of idiots, or gets turned into a fly? That’s right, NO ONE!

    Ah, yes, now I see. Aliens and gentic mutants: totally fiction. Demons: totally real.

  • Hdj

    Alan –

    My balls statement is only ignorant if I was using it to offend people. Which I was not doing. Rather I was Implying to bullshit load of the bold statements people have been making like ” scariest movie ever” and ” I’ve never been this scared like this before”. Those statement disregard and dismiss years of horror movies and I find that most of all *ahem* ignorant.

  • tomservo

    Look, Hdj, personel insults based on someone’s opinion about a movie is pathetic. PA scared the shit out of me so I’m ignorent? Bullshit. I’ve seen just about every freaking horror movie there is. Cannible Holocaust, Pieces, Pulse (Japanese version), Audition. How about the crazy fucked up French horror like Inside and Martyrs? Seen those? Projecting your opinion on other people you don’t know is always tempting on threads, we all do it, but you will get called out. Btw, John Carpenter’s The Thing is my personel favorite. Does that make me a pussy?

  • Hdj

    So you’ve seen some pivotal films of horror history, so, so what? Pieces huh? lol. That movies bad but fun, lots of bloody fun to be had in that grindfest.
    How about the claim, ” if this movie doesn’t scare you, you’ve got no soul”? That’s a rather demanding statement. P.A didn’t scare me…, now I get a test of faith? To answer your question, no doesn’t make you a pussy that PA scared you. When someone says ” wheres your balls” its like saying ” man up”.

    Being a JC enthusiast myself, viewing Paranormal Activity, all I could see was a film just pissing away all the techniques laid down by the masters.All this talk about “whats coming next from this guy?” ” He should make all the horror movies for time to come”. ” Saw” and ” Hostile” grossed to many people out, P.A comes out problem solved. Twice the scares minus the blood, everyones happy. Total bullshit. The P.A being the “scariest movie in a long time” claim is as stupid as saying the reality television show “The Hills” portrays better drama then ” The Shawshank Redemption”, thats how I’m perceiving the reviews being written and said all over.

  • Alan

    Well they have every right to say that it is the scariest movie ever. Since you claim that they (and myself, since it is the scariest movie I have ever seen) are ignorant because you disagree with them…that makes YOU ignorant, not them. If you don’t think it is the scariest movie ever made then fine. But if someone else does then it makes absolutely no sense to call them ignorant for not going along with your “years of horror movies” schtick. When you say “wheres your balls” or “man up” or whatever, take your own advice next time and man up to the fact that just because someone gets creeped out by some sort of movie you find stupid, does not make them ignorant. End of story.

    Ah, yes, now I see. Aliens and gentic mutants: totally fiction. Demons: totally real.

    No that is not what I meant at all. Some people have a fear of the dark, not necessarily a phobia to the point to where they CAN’T be in the dark…but more of that akin to when someone sees a huge spider in their room, and though while not arachnaphobic…they gotta get rid of it. Perfectly natural and no one else has any business saying otherwise, this movie plays on that fear. The point is, no one really knows what happens when they sleep. I myself have never actually SEEN a ghost, but I am sure at least more than one person in here has experienced that weird noise or something falling over for no reason at all. If not, good for you then.:)

  • JoshB

    When you say “wheres your balls” or “man up” or whatever, take your own advice next time and man up to the fact that just because someone gets creeped out by some sort of movie you find stupid, does not make them ignorant. End of story.

    Wow, you are a spectacular hypocrite. SPECTACULAR.

    Why don’t you stop mewling about Hdj being mean to you and feast your eyes on this:

    “Still, Cloverfield is a far better film than Paranormal Activity” You completely lost all credibility the moment you said that. You might as well have stopped writing the review…In fact you might as well just stop writing reviews on horror films altogether. Cloverfield is a damn joke compared to this film.

    Who said that? Would that be you?

  • Pollux

    JoshB, your all-caps dramatic “BWAHAHA/WOW” schtick is more groan-inducing than this movie. Do the board a favor and please get out of everybody’s face.

  • Alan

    JoshB if I was talking to you in the first place, I would have mentioned you. Seriously learn to mind your own business. And…

    Who said that? Would that be you?

    I never said anyone was IGNORANT now did I? Exactly. All I said was that in my mind the reviewer lost all credibility, and should never write another review. That does not mean she lost credibility to others who feel the same way…and just because I said she should not write another review…am I going to expect that she does just that? No. But I did get a kick out of the “mewling about Hdj being mean to you” statement, I’ll give you that much. You never even took the time to realize what he said was pure ignorance…that’s hilarious, and calling me a “spectacular hypocrite” as well…hmm, check in the mirror sometime.

  • JoshB

    I never said anyone was IGNORANT now did I?

    No, I suppose you never used the the syllables ig-no-rant. On the other hand, you did say that someone lacked credibility for liking one movie over another, and suggested that she shouldn’t be allowed to review horror movies.

    Also, I think you are ignorant about the correct definition of hypocrite. See, you were an ass to Maryann, then Hdj was an ass to you, then you complained about Hdj being an ass to you. That makes you a hypocrite. Then I was an ass to you, but I never complained about anyone being an ass to me. That makes me an ass, but not a hypocrite.

    This is a public board Alan. If you want to have a private conversation with Hdj without my input then use email.

  • Alan

    No you got that one wrong. I didn’t complain about Hdj being mean to me. All I said was a retort regarding his comment generalizing anyone who said this movie was scary and thus deeming them ball-less I guess you could say. Then he had to say something back and I called him out on it, it had absolutely nothing to do with you whatsoever so frankly…you have no say in the matter. That is that.

  • Demonstrates that when filmgoers decide they want to be scared, they will forgive absolutely anything — bad acting, cheesy dialogue, poor camerawork, bad editing, unconvincing effects, incoherent storytelling — for the sake of a good scare.

  • Alan

    then you are obviously discussing a different movie…this is Paranormal Activity, not Blair Witch 2, so go find that one instead.

  • Wow! It would have been worth seeing this movie at full price–which is something I rarely do anymore–just to be able to appreciate the creativity of some of the comments here.

    That said…

    I’m eight years older than MaryAnn, spent most of my early twenties watching horror movies like The Howling and Dawn of the Dead and spent most of this past December watching various Christmas horror films–including both versions of Black Christmas. It says something about my sense of dark humor that Christmas night the one movie I chose to watch before I went to sleep was Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt–a movie which, incidentally, can also be said to be a talky horror movie in which hardly anything happens until the last ten minutes. ;-)

    In other words, I don’t consider myself to be a person who is easily scared by horror movies–and yet this movie creeped me out.

    Maybe I’m gullible. Maybe I couldn’t help relating it to the various ghost stories I heard growing up or to an older cousin’s accounts of how he once went sleep-walking on the second floor of a two-story house and found himself downstairs with no idea of how he got there.

    But this movie creeped me out.

    Maybe I wouldn’t have found it so scary if I had seen the trailer or read more detailed reviews or whatever.

    But in the end it worked for me in a way that it did not quite work for MaryAnn. And quite frankly, I’d rather see another film like this again than I would, say, Drag Me to Hell–which was okay, but did not quite hit me as emotionally as this one did.

    But, hey, different strokes for different folks. Tastes vary.

    If you thought this film was bad, be thankful you never saw the 2006 remake of Black Christmas which throws in every possible horror movie element and still ends up so godawful I found it hard to believe it was directed by the same Glen Morgan who wrote or co-wrote so many of the scarier X-Files episodes. Unless, of course, you already did see it–in which case you have my sympathy.

  • The boyfriend is just an immature, inconsiderate prick, and the girl is a whiny and even more boring version of Pam from The Office.

    Well, it goes without saying that Micah is never going to win a MTV “Ideal Movie Boyfriend of the Year” contest but in the end, I think he put up with a lot more than many people in the same situation would have. And to his ultimate detriment.

    As for those who found him gullible…if your significant other vanished from your bedside in the middle of the night and you heard him or her screaming from the other side of the house…how exactly would you react?

    And I must confess that I’ve watched many an episode of The Office and yet not once thought of Pam while I was watching Katie.

    Also liked that this movie involved a demon. Not much is known or has been investigated about demons because they are too evil to get near. A lot of my fear came from the unknown … what the hell is this thing capable of doing?!?!?

    Actually it is never really established what the creature is. Yes, the people in the house believed it was a demon but it could just as easily be something from another world or dimension that we would interpret to be a demon. Which would explain why it wasn’t bothered too much by the cross Katie was holding.

    Then again if they really did believe it was a demon, why the heck didn’t they go out and consult a priest instead of a would-be ghostbuster? And hadn’t they ever heard of holy water?

    Anyway, like many of the people who have admitted liking the movie on this site, I’m not blind to this movie’s flaws. I’m just not convinced they’re deal-breakers.

    I find that there are many people who believe that introducing and using a wigi board in their home would bring about some form of negative energy. Whether that is a demon or not I would assume is left up to the individual to decide. I don’t believe I have ever heard any positive stories from use of the wigi board.

    As you probably gathered by now, Tim1974, it’s “ouija board,” not “wigi board.” It’s not like it’s that hard a word to spell.

    And yes, I saw the loophole Micah would use to justify bringing one into the house from a mile away. But then you hardly needed to be a law school student to predict that plot development…

  • Not So Scary

    Is too! ;-)

  • Nathan

    ***Spoilers***

    This movie blew it for me with the flaming Ouija board scene… much of it was creepy and effective, but the instances when they took it a little too far ruined it for me.

    And after she described the incidents beginning when she was a child as a dark figure loomed over her bed, I couldn’t help interpret the movie as a metaphor for the aftermath of child sexual-abuse — which might be the only interesting way to look at the movie.

    Unless you believe in demons and such…

    /Didn’t read the above thread

  • Neil

    I’m real late to the party here but, I just finished watching it and…meh? Yeah, it had its moments, and I found myself holding my breath at times, but no…no. Definitely not one of the scariest movies of all time, in my opinion. And that’s coming from someone who has experienced a couple of incidents that he can only chalk up to paranormal activity.

    The Blair Witch Project, on the other hand, scared the bejesus outta me…

  • Alan

    The Blair Witch is nothing compared to this movie…seriously.

  • The movie was terrible and I don’t need to write a page and a half article as to why.

  • Alan

    You don’t need to simply because it wasn’t terrible to begin with.

  • cassandra

    Oh I’m sorry alan, did you say something?

  • Alan

    Oh how clever, you must be so proud.

  • stryker1121

    Just watched PA this weekend, and i can say it’s well done, kinda creepy, but not scary. What i did like is how all the action stays in the house, which makes for a nicely claustrophobic feel. I can even buy into Michah’s character, cuz his dickish, selfish actions empower the entity haunting katie. I’d call PA a fun experiment that probably needs to be watched in a packed theater w/ everyone holding their collective breath. The tension w/ this movie comes while waiting for something to happen–but the actual happenings are not that scary. Doors bang, lights go on and off, and I’m thinking of some member of the crew doing these things and not a “demon.” Too bad, b/c I find the idea of demons very scary, even if I may not believe in their existence….I’d suggest reading Stephen King’s short story 1408 (skip the movie). It really nails the fear of the unknown, mind-bending unexplainable phenomena where this movie does not.

  • Chris

    I finally watched this movie, on DVD. It was creepy enough, but not as scary for me as The Ring or The Grudge (yeah, I know, shut up). However, I can see it being much scarier on the bigscreen, in a dark theater, with a forced participation in the action.

    However, the last scene ruined it for me totally. A fourth wall jump-at-the-camera? Really? There are a million far-creepier ways to end that film. Even just her standing in the doorway staring at the camera would have been effective. Or having her look at the camera as the last shot, or maybe have her kind of skitter out of the room. Something creepily unnatural for a human to do, but not CGI’d to death. But the way they did it just Hollywooded it for me, which ruined the whole premise of the film.

    And, an aside. Your girlfriend vanishes. What do you do? Why, GRAB THE CAMERA, of course. That kind of thing kills immersion, imho. Maybe have him set up several static cameras throughout the house, and capture the story that way. But forcing the protagonist to carry a camera in illogical situations kills the mood as well. This is not the only film guilty of this, of course

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