Paranormal Activity (2007, Oren Peli)

Handicam horror, but not all blair-witch super-shaky (or cloverfield or whatever). Dude hears that his girlfriend has been haunted since she was little (she rolls out the backstory gradually since there’s not much else in the way of plot development) so he gets the camera and tries to document her hauntings. Psychic tells them it’s demons not ghosts, shows them a clip from The Exorcist and skedaddles. Doors open themselves, chandeliers shake, footprints appear. The dude escalates things by buying a ouija board, spoiling things for everyone, including the viewer who’d been enjoying the general lack of hackery up to that point.

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Movie is as great as advertised for the first half – I was scared to death. The ouija thing takes it from convincing-fake-doc into clearly-scripted territory, where it remains as she reveals more backstory and discovers a long-lost family photo in the attic of the boyfriend’s house. Then the ending (one of a few, apparently) didn’t do it for me. She sleepwalks downstairs, screams until he comes running, then slowly comes back upstairs holding a bloody knife. No problem there, and apparently the theatrical version ends into “she was never seen again” title cards, but mine had the cops come in and shoot her dead when they saw the knife. Halfway worth the hype, then… still impressive for indie horror. Let’s see if its sequel can avoid the Blair Witch 2 trap.

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