Back around the turn of the century, I got my first exposure to “The Blair Witch Project” at a midnight preview in the north of Greece with huge subtitles across the print: the audience didn’t know any of the pop-culture references and the Greek letters basically translated the screams and shrieks and sobs. “These people may not know it,” a Romanian colleague leaned over and whispered, “but they have allowed the devil into the world.” Her eyes were wide. “Let’s go light some candles at a church.” The makers of that film haven’t topped the amazing success since, but it is a startling ten years later for another film, “Paranormal Activity,” to benefit from a contemporary version of that smash hit’s astute marketing. And seeing “Paranormal Activity” with a packed audience doesn’t suggest the devil, but it certainly suggests that the mass moviegoing experience can be renewed, if only on occasion. My favorite aspect of the movie is its minimalism, which has been pared down even since its Slamdance 2008 premiere. I’ll only say this: it’s a haunted-house movie. Things happen. Other things might happen. It’s patient. It pays off. You won’t want to light a candle, but you will want to leave the lights on. 84m. (Ray Pride)
“Paranormal Activity” is now playing.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.