Based on the success so far, Paramount has decided to take 'Paranormal' nationwide this weekend. So, should you believe the hype? Well, it's been haunting me ever since I saw it a week ago -- I'm still sleeping with all the lights on (and forcing my poor husband to escort me into the basement to do laundry), so I'm going to have to answer that question with a big YES. This is the rare scary movie that actually gets under your skin, and stays there long after the theater lights come up. And it's quite simply the most effective haunted-house movie I've ever seen. Thanks to a wildly successful (and highly unorthodox) marketing campaign and near universal acclaim, horror flick 'Paranormal Activity' is probably the hottest ticket in your town. The low-budget film -- it cost a mere $11,000 for a seven-day shoot -- was first released only in college towns, then slowly rolled out to additional markets based on an online audience demand campaign. Last weekend 'Paranormal' took in an astounding $49,379 per screen, earning $7.9 million for the weekend (compare that with the massively marketed 'Couples Retreat,' which cost Universal $60 million to make and earned $34.3 mil on 3,000 screens, making a less impressive $11,429 per screen).
Based on the success so far, Paramount has decided to take 'Paranormal' nationwide this weekend. So, should you believe the hype? Well, it's been haunting me ever since I saw it a week ago -- I'm still sleeping with all the lights on (and forcing my poor husband to escort me into the basement to do laundry), so I'm going to have to answer that question with a big YES. This is the rare scary movie that actually gets under your skin, and stays there long after the theater lights come up. And it's quite simply the most effective haunted-house movie I've ever seen.
The film follows a young couple (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) who set up a video camera in their bedroom to capture events they believe to be otherworldly. What unfolds after that is chilling, thrilling and just downright creepy. You see just enough of the couple's mundane daily activities -- brushing teeth, reading, eating -- that you forget at times that it's scripted and, by the end of the movie, you're convinced this couple really is documenting a true-life haunting.
Unlike today's major horror franchises, the real element of fear here is inspired not by flesh-and-bone bad guys, monsters or threat of bodily harm -- it's the fear of the unknown, the unseen. It's the things that go bump late at night while you clutch your partner in bed or bolt upright from a dead sleep because you're convinced there's a shadowy figure standing at the foot of your bed. Some of the moments in the film that elicit the loudest screams in the theater are the quietest on screen.
But don't take my word for it. Sure, I may be just be a scaredy cat (well, yes, I am, actually). But critics and moviegoers share my enthusiasm for 'Paranormal Activity.' Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly called it "freaky and terrifying," while Betsy Sharkey of the L.A. Times wrote, "There will be a very tight coil of anxiety buried deep in your gut that is very hard to get rid of." And -- now this may be the real shocker here -- critics and fans seem to be in agreement on this flick. Read on to discover what some of the Moviefone readers who've seen the movie have to say.
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"For those who haven't seen the film, I can assure you that you have no idea what's in store. I am not easily frightened, and I have never been scared by a movie to the point of not being able to sleep ... After watching 'Paranormal Activity' I did not fall asleep until 5am. In my opinion, it was THAT scary. I am still a bit shaken, and I left the theater practically in tears. It is worth going to see -- trust me, you will not be disappointed!" -- Ashley
"I am a film major and a true horror film enthusiast, and nothing has left me tossing and turning in bed like this film did. The film has you on the edge of your seat and biting your nails the whole time. People next to me had their eyes shut half the time, and I witnessed an audience viewer yell out, 'You're on your own! This s*** is crazy!' before he left the theater halfway through the film. Truly a fun experience if you love a thrill." -- Mary
"I'm a pretty tough and manly guy, but watching this movie was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I was glad that people were around me when the movie ended because I needed to feel safe! I was 'that guy' who screamed like a little girl and then started cussing at the movie to try and regain my manhood. Definitely a must-see movie!" -- Brett
"No joke, scariest movie I have ever seen. Ran from car to my front door and slept with all the lights on. You will love it ... You will remember it every time you hear a noise you can't explain." -- Aricela
"I went and saw the movie last night in Seattle, Wash. I'm 33 years old and have seen every new and old horror movie made, and this movie by far was the scariest thing I ever seen. My hubby doesn't believe in ghosts, but even he couldn't fall asleep last night, and today I am still terrified. Best scary movie by far. My favorite was 'The Exorcist' until now." -- Brandi
"I went to go see this movie with some friends ... one of the girls seriously didn't sleep for a week after watching this movie." -- Juan