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Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics What's this?

User Score
5.7

Mixed or average reviews- based on 517 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: After a young, middle class couple moves into what seems like a typical suburban “starter” tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. (Paramount Pictures)
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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Tirdad Derakhshani
    75
    An impressive, not entirely successful exercise in minimalist filmmaking.
  5. I’ve never seen a movie that so cunningly exploits our anticipation.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See all 24 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Jan 19, 2014
    10
    in short, Paranormal Activity is simply a terrifyingly ingenious roller coaster of a film that proves that horror films are far better when less overdone and more simple. Expand
  2. Jul 14, 2012
    9
    Proves that the silence, the darkness, the sense of dread in films is scarier than any monster movie, or any horror that shows the ghost/demon. In the whole time that I have watched films I've never been so on edge over what may happen next, there is probably more silence than speech in this film, but how scared you actually are takes away from that. The positioning of the camera is perfect, letting us basically everything occurring in the house in one shot. But the scariest part of this film by a mile is the aftermath of watching, the psychological fear playing on your mind as you try to sleep and begin to panic, when I fall asleep what next? It really is a film that you won't forget, it may not be perfect in scripting or acting , but it will go down as one of the scariest films in history. Expand
  3. Dec 12, 2011
    8
    (January 14, 2010)
    Paranormal Activity is the perfect example of how horror films do not need large budgets with excess gore and violence to
    scare the child in all of us. This movie takes the phrase âless is moreâ? and runs as far as possible with it. Like The Blair Witch Project before it, this movie not only grows the horror genre, but takes it into a brand new direction.
    The story only features four characters, two of which are Micah and Katie. They are a young married couple and Katie is different from most people; ever since youth she has been haunted by something out of the ordinary at bedtime. Micha, who is dangerously curious about the situation, decides to purchase an expensive camera to observe the haunting at night. As the film goes on slowly more and more is reveled about what is causing the disturbances during the night, but I will keep hush about the rest of plot. Realistic is the key word I would use for this movie. This has some of the best acting out there, it is almost too realistic. If someone stumbled onto a clip from this film with no explanation behind it I guarantee they would believe that is was real. The lead pair play off of each other so well, with their quick reactions and remarks, that it really pushes the film past other films of this handy cam horror genre. It is a film that will make all inspiring film directors say: âI wish I would have thought of this!â?

    The only real complaint I have is a small one. This movie seems like a one trick pony. I do not feel like I could watch this film again on a standard television and get the same chills and thrills as I did in the theater. This film really does play off the atmosphere you are in while watching it. I do believe this film will go down as a cult classic such as Blair Witch though, and will be the movie that will forever spread by word of mouth.
    The fact that a fifteen thousand dollar budget film with no added bells and whistles to it, warped my mind more than any other recent horror film is a bit âParanormalâ? its self. I personally had a few rough nights of sleep after viewing this movie. I was not to terrified while viewing the film in the theater, but as soon as I got to my bed and rested my head; the visions of this creepy film kept playing back in my head. I felt like I was eight years old again afraid of the monster watching me in my closet. Go see this film in the theater with a few companions while you still can. It is a social experience you do not want to miss.
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  4. Oct 18, 2012
    6
    *UPDATED REVIEW!*I originally didn't like the film, but I re-watched it and kind of enjoyed it this time; the version I saw this time was a different version to the one I hated (there are three versions). This time, I thought the film was enjoyable, amusing (due to unintentional humour) and even creepy at times (the other version was not those things). Though, I still don't like the silly ending, the poor acting, the dumb characters, unnecessary shoots and the lack of true scares. Expand
  5. Aug 19, 2010
    5
    Couple have weird goings on in house, decide to set up a camera to capture odd happenings on film, lunacy!
    Hand-held camera jump fest which
    doesn't add that much in the way of originality to the genre.
    One or two scary moments but let down by silly stuff. If I heard a massive noise downstairs in the middle of the night,the first thing I'd grab wouldn't be a video camera & then continue filming whilst my girlfriend went bonkers.
    Thought the ending undid a lot of the work & tension that the rest of the film had built up. The alternate ending, albeit a lot more blunt, fitted better.
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  6. Nov 12, 2012
    3
    Quality wise, it's YouTube on the big screen, and bad YouTube at that. Scare wise, it's laughable.
  7. Oct 22, 2010
    0
    Those of you who think that the first movie was good you have no sense of what a good movie is let alone a horror movie. Seriously, Paranormal Activity what such a bunch of mindless cliche and terrible script writing. I was so utterly bored by this movie I would've left had I not fallen asleep to the non-eventfulness of the movie. This movie shows more how Hollywood has stooped to the level of making good commercials than that of good movies. What's that you say, it was made by college kids. That may be so, but still I'm utterly repulsed by how much money this movie made. Beyond that other movies have been made from college level people that were 100 times better than this piece of filth. So angry (even a year later) for watching and hour and fifteen minutes of a movie where nothing happens, there is only fifteen minutes where this movie engaged me. Obviously this movie should have been only fifteen minutes and I would have been happy, but no it dragged on for about 90.

    Maybe they'll get it right this time. But I'd rather be watching The Walking Dead on AMC then spending my money on this new cash cow crap-a-thon
    Expand

See all 291 User Reviews