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'Paranormal Activity:' a terrifying Halloween treat

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4.5 out of 5 stars

By Scotty McDaniel

Remember when leaving your feet hanging off the bed was bait to the monster beneath it?

Watching Paranormal Activity will bring back those childhood fears and remind you that just because you can't see anything lurking in the dark, doesn't mean something is not there.

Paranormal Activity is No. 1 at the box office, filmed with nothing more than the Blair Witch-esque, singlehand-held camera technique, which is effective because of how limited it is.

This low-budget mockumentary doesn't need special effects, scary music, or multiple cameras to achieve its scares.

Instead of cutting to different angles, throwing in cheesy music and destroying the reality of the moment, the viewer essentially is the camera, stuck there on a tripod with nowhere to run.

Therein lies the brilliant suspense of this movie. Odd noises in the dark hallway? You're just going to have to stare and wait to see what's coming.

Directed by Oren Peli, this R-rated flick follows Katie Featherston and her boyfriend, Micah Sloat, as they attempt to document some of the unusual occurrences that have been happening at night in their home.

Sloat buys the camera to attempt to record the stomping noises and lights turning on and off on their own, because he obviously thinks these weird events are cool. He actually bangs the walls and encourages more strange activities to happen at one point.

Featherston is less thrilled about him recording the whole ordeal. She has been followed by paranormal happenings all her life, and though annoying, they had never amounted to anything other than some sleepless nights.

However, midway through the movie, that all changes, and Sloat's trusty camera catches a lot of goose bump-inducing material. Whatever is in the house with them wants Featherston, and her experiences go from light spooky to horrifyingly unbearable.

At times she seems to be possessed, with the video showing her wake in the early a.m.'s and just standing motionless over her sleeping boyfriend literally for hours, staring. Then just as slowly as she got out of bed, she turns and disappears down the dark stairs and out of camera shot without a sound.

She has no memory of the abnormal behavior afterward, and the idea that she was alone in the dark somewhere in the house shakes her and all who are watching to the core.

Poor Sloat wants to be the tough boyfriend who takes care of his girl, but how does one defend against the unknown? Especially when the next time she leaves the bedroom in the middle of the night, she’s being drug out it kicking and screaming.

Paranormal Activity is a fresh and suspenseful take on the scary movie genre.

Most scary movies follow that predictable format and are more amusing than they're meant to be, but this was the first one in years that actually made me want to leave the light on when I got home. It deserves to be seen around Halloween time.

When the sheets slowly slide off of the couple asleep in bed, expect to hear some muffled screams from the audience. I found this to be a comforting reminder. At least I wasn’t alone in the dark.