Thursday, October 15, 2009
Ever since I was seven years old, I’ve not-so-randomly been waking up at 1:29am. Nothing really happens, there isn't a noise, a spirit that haunts me, or whispers in my ear. I just wake up. It wasn’t until I was about nineteen, while going through some family documents that I noticed on my birth certificate that I was born at 1:29am on July 1st 1978. Weird.
I live in a house on Evergreen. A house my father bought fairly cheap in 1985 because it was all that remained from a horrible fire that killed the old lady who owned it. Her son wanted nothing to do with the property and quickly sold it after the fire. Growing up I was referred to as the kid who lived in the haunted house.
I was seven years old in 1985.
“We would like to thank the families of Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston, and the San Diego Police Department" is how Paranormal Activity begins. What proceeds is 90 minutes of “discovered” footage that takes you through the horrifying haunting of Katie Featherston shot in a documentary “Blair Witch” style by her boyfriend Micah Sloat, who is determined to capture the paranormal activity on his new Sony videocamera.
Written and directed by Oren Peli, shot for $15,000 in a span of a couple of days in his San Diego home, “Paranormal Activity” captures the emotion that recent year big-budget Hollywood teen scary movies fail to connect with. From the start we find ourselves in the lives of a couple that recently became “engaged to be engaged”. We follow Micah and Katie as they deal with this haunting. For a good part of the movie Micah sets up a tripod in the corner of their bedroom to record any activity that would happen as they’re asleep. So the lights go out, clock on the bottom right, and through time lapse we watch and wait, holding our breath for something to happen... and maybe something happens off screen, or then on screen. Peli fucks with us, but he doesn’t offend us. He bravely hold us hostage until the very end, when the footage abruptly ends.
The Blair Witch Project opened in theatres ten years ago, and made $250 million at the box office. I went with my friends to watch a midnight screening of the movie, and came out of the theatre scared, asking “Was that fucking real?” Its for moments like these that you love going to the movies. Because you were scarred. Because at one time or another, we’ve heard noises in the dark, in the middle of the night that took our breath away, that persuaded us to sleep with a baseball bat within arms reach... the fear that made us ask our parents to check for monsters under the bed when we were kids, or to turn on the nightlight after they said goodnight... it’s for these moments that Paranormal Activity works. Not because it “did” happen, but because it could happen. Because I keep waking up at exactly 1:29am and I don’t know why. Because that noise you heard that woke you up in the middle of the night just may not be your house settling.