Monday, November 14, 2011

Paranormal Activity: The Camera Technique

I love this movie.  Probably one of my all-time favorites.  Loved it the first time I saw it, and even though I knew what happened the second time, I still enjoyed it.
I think I like this movie so much because it feels real, like it could actually happen.  This mirrors what Scott said about what makes people enjoy a horror story: the realness of it, as if it could happen to them or somebody they know.  It’s that realness that freaks them out and makes them want to read or watch more.   I definitely got that feeling with Paranormal Activity, and I think a big part of that is because of the camera technique – the idea that it’s being filmed by somebody who’s part of the story.  I think this technique works so well for horror, because it makes the action feel real, like it was really caught on tape by somebody.  And this movie puts that to great use.
Of course, it also can be a bit of a detriment at times.  There were moments (I’ll point one out in a moment) when it seemed odd to me that they’d be filming, but I think it definitely works overall, since the character Micah films because he wants to capture the paranormal activity that has been plaguing him and his girlfriend, Katie, so to speak.  Therefore, when Katie screams off-screen at one point, it didn’t bother me that he picked up the camera and ran to try to film any kind of ghostly action that may be occurring.  Of course, it turned out to be a spider at that moment, but the scene was a nice reminder that they’re filming for a very good reason.
This movie also tackles the “Why don’t they leave?” question at least somewhat well, which is one I’ve been having problems with lately with a lot of the books we’ve been reading in our horror class.  It’s still not without holes, but I think the concept overall is pretty effective: they can’t leave (or at least there wouldn’t be any point in leaving) because the ghost isn’t in the house; it follows Katie wherever she goes.  I can buy this for awhile, but like I said, eventually it still became a bit of a problem for me.  I know Micah’s in love with Katie, but at some point I think they’d try the desperate measure of leaving – even if just for the blind hope that it really is something tied to the house.  You might as well give it a shot, right?  Things got so spooky, I figure they’d be running to friends’ for family, and surrounding themselves with other people, if not merely to feel more comfortable and supported.  But, of course, more people would make the story feel less creepy even if the strange activity continued.
By this time in the movie (towards the end), it also felt odd to me that Micah would still be filming.  I mean, they’ve caught so much activity by this time, what would be the point of any more, especially now that they’re lives seem seriously in jeopardy?  In particular, I’m thinking of the scene when Micah’s talking to Katie on the bed, and she’s speaking in an almost dreamlike state (overall, a very awesome, spooky scene).  By that point it’s obvious that she’s possessed, or at the very least something is horribly wrong with her.  Not only would I not have the camera running, but I’d be fleeing from the place like there was no tomorrow – or at least trying to get this woman to a hospital or something to be checked on (whether or I not even believed she could be helped by doctors).  No matter what, the last thing I’d be doing is filming her and then agreeing not to go anywhere, but to go to sleep, which would totally not be possible at that height of the freakiness.  Then again, that’s my opinion.  But the spook factor of the movie was so high in general that these scenes didn’t bother me that much.  I anticipate other people having differing opinions on that point, though.


Jennifer Loring said...

Good points, especially in your last paragraph. Some of Micah's motivations (or lack thereof) are really questionable. If your girlfriend appears to be possessed, you're probably going to get her some help. It's been a while since I saw the film, so I'm hoping I'll get more out of it than I did the first time around.

John Dixon said...

I appreciated the you-can't-just-move aspect of this movie, too. After taking this class, I'll never watch or read another ghost story without asking whether or not it's realistic that characters stay. This movie, where the haunting seems to center on the girl, not the place, handled the whole question beautifully and chillingly, I thought.

Kristina Elyse Butke said...

You raise some good questions about Micah's reliance on the camera. There were definitely some moments where the filming seemed out of're right. They got some pretty good footage, so...what else could satisfy Micah at that point?