Welcome, dear readers, to Substream’s 31 Days of Halloween. While every holiday captures the hearts and minds of the Substream staff, Halloween holds an especially important place in our hearts. Now that we’ve entered the month of October, it’s time for us to share our love for this holiday with you.
Every single day in October, our collection of spooky staff writers and ghoulish guest contributors will walk you through a horror or Halloween-themed movie they adore. The goal is to both celebrate the titans and icons of the season while also introducing you to new films and scares to fill your autumn nights. Lock your doors, check under your bed, and settle in as you join Substream for our 31 Days of Halloween.
Day 9: Paranormal Activity (2007)
As the great director Alfred Hitchcock once said, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” We love being scared while watching horror movies, but ask yourself this question: What do we love more, the scare itself or the anticipation of the scare? For horror movie junkies, there’s nothing better than watching in fear, knowing that something will happen but not knowing what or when. Such waiting is what makes Paranormal Activity a gem of a horror movie.
The movie focuses on a young couple, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) who move to San Diego and are tormented by an evil presence that Katie believes has been haunting her as a child. A psychic, Dr. Fredrichs (played by Mark Fredhrichs) confirms this and tells the couple not to provoke the spirit. Micah sets up a camcorder in their bedroom to record any paranormal activities that occur. First, the activity is minor: lights turning on and off, some small noises, things that are unsettling but not terrifying. The lack of intensity leads Micah to mock the demon…and that’s when things go downhill for him and Katie. I don’t want to spoil anything, but don’t be fooled by the minor nature of the haunting at first. The demon can, and will, do a LOT worse.
Paranormal Activity isn’t a high-budget horror movie with insane special effects or awesome camera work. In all honesty, the production itself is mediocre. And that’s what makes it so excellent.
For most of the film, the camera is set on a tripod or on the dresser of Katie and Micah’s bedroom, making you feel as if you’re in the room with them, lurking in the corner. Additionally, there’s no unnatural dialogue because most of the film was retroscripted, where the actors are given the general idea of the scene but are told to improvise the dialogue. So, their conversations are natural and believable. In fact, the whole movie is believable. And that’s what makes it so scary. There’s nothing special about the characters, the house, the camerawork. Everything is so average. It’s almost as if this could happen to you.
If you haven’t seen Paranormal Activity yet, I highly suggest it. But be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart. The film relies on its suspense and realistic nature to lure you in, it preys on your anxiety. At some points in the movie, nothing exciting is happening, but you find yourself on the edge of your set anyway. It sucks you in and leaves you wondering, “Am I next?”