Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 24
  2. Negative: 1 out of 24
  1. With its this-is-really-happening vibe, Paranormal Activity scrapes away 30 years of encrusted nightmare clichés. The fear is real, all right, because the fear is really in you.
  2. Reviewed by: Felix Vasques, Jr.
    90
    This is a brutal, exhausting, and genuinely horrifying little ghost flick.
  3. 88
    An ingenious little horror film, so well made it's truly scary.
  4. 83
    The film loses some of its grimy verisimilitude toward the end, but it’s nevertheless a surprisingly effective low-budget shocker with a sensibility as current as the latest viral videos, yet rooted in the suggestive, less-is-more atmospherics of Val Lewton.
  5. Reviewed by: Simon Crook
    80
    An Amityville for the YouTube age: potent, primal and genuinely frightening.
  6. It's a hit for the most surprising reason of all: because it's very good.
  7. 80
    Grounded by strong performances by newcomers Featherston and Sloat, who pretty much have the movie to themselves, Paranormal Activity, which demands to be seen in a crowded theater, is refreshingly blood-free.
  8. Peli works at mining the unknown, the unknowable, like a minimalist, using small moments and virtually no special effects exceedingly well.
  9. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    80
    Beyond the viral ingenuity of the marketing, what's cool about PA is that it's not just a fun thrill ride; it's an instructive artistic experience. A horror-movie revisionist, Peli follows a less-is-more strategy.
  10. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    80
    Paranormal succeeds in staying unnervingly "real."
  11. 75
    With a $15,000 budget too puny to empty a petty-cash drawer, the no-frills Paranormal Activity comes packed with thrills.
  12. 75
    Like legendary producer Val Lewton in the '40s, director Oren Peli, who shot "Paranormal" in seven days in his own home, understands that what's most frightening is what you don't see but merely suggested.
  13. Reviewed by: Tirdad Derakhshani
    75
    An impressive, not entirely successful exercise in minimalist filmmaking.
  14. Succeeds in its modest goals of building tension slowly and generating a handful of legitimate scares. A few people in the audience were laughing during the first half of the film. No one was laughing during the long walk out of the theater.
  15. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    75
    No-frills chills are what Paranormal Activity offers in unrelenting supply.
  16. I’ve never seen a movie that so cunningly exploits our anticipation.
  17. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    70
    It comes by its screams honestly, earning them with incremental, at times agonizing gradations of old-fashioned, what's-that-noise-in-the-hallway suspense.
  18. 63
    The movie's faults aside, this is the kind of show where half the fun is watching it in the company of a large group of people.
  19. Reviewed by: Kevin Lally
    60
    "Paranormal" ultimately does deliver in a way that "Blair Witch" never did, but its achingly slow buildup is a test not just of an audience's patience but the power of hype surrounding the latest alternative scary movie.
  20. A "Blair Witch"-y creepshow that owes a lot to Japanese horror.
  21. Often has the feel of a film-school exercise in which the object is to wring maximum suspense from rudimentary tools.
  22. Reviewed by: Justine Elias
    50
    Even at 85 minutes, the movie contains maybe 50 minutes that scare.
  23. 50
    A crudely made, half-clever little frightener that has become something of a pop-culture sensation and most certainly the movie marketing story of the year.
  24. 0
    Don't believe the hype: Paranormal Activity may be a lot of things, but the words "scary" and "movie" are not among them. It is instead nothing more or less than an excruciatingly tedious YouTube gag cleverly marketed to go viral in the broadest and most box office-friendly way.
User Score
5.7

Mixed or average reviews- based on 538 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Sep 18, 2011
    6
    Oren Pelli's "Paranormal Activity" is a decent movie in the 'scary' category, but a fantastic one in the 'psychology' category.
  2. ChrisC
    Oct 20, 2009
    9
    Admittedly the first parts of the movie were kinda boring. But I can't help but feel it was purposely boring to lower expectations to increase the shock value. Brilliantly made movie, the ending is one that still haunts me even days later and is probably the most terrifying scene in a horror movie I've ever seen. Honestly I can't stand when people act tough and say this movie didn't scare them. Stop kidding yourself. It was probably the best horror movie I've ever seen. And Mike R.....you paid $20 for a ticket???? Full Review »
  3. Mar 19, 2012
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. This movie is okay, not "the scariest film I have ever seen" but, the end where the body flies to the camera did make me jump a little. But, I wouldn't really watch it unless someone made me.. Full Review »