...I didn't buy a Ouija board. I borrowed a Ouija board." ~Micah (Paranormal Activity, 2007)
When I told my 18-year-old daughter this film was on the "must see" list for my Readings in the Genre course she rolled her eyes. "It's sooo booring," she said. We're usually in synch when it comes to movies, and so I approached viewing this film with a good degree of skepticism. Perhaps, because of that, my mind was already biased. I huddled into my covers with a diet Sprite, and prepared to be bored...pen and paper in hand to ready to take brief notes.
The movie started out with that 'home-movie' feel which reminded me a little of the way "The Blair Witch Project" was done. Despite my skepticism, I thought it had an original feel to it, the way it started out with a live-in boyfriend who'd bought a video camera in order to try to capture some of the strange phenomena in the house which I can only guess must have occurred before the story begins.
I didn't feel drawn into the story however, and it was painful for me to suffer through the couple's constant banter in the film. Katie, the female, ever sullen and critical, and her boyfriend Micah, consistently enthusiastic and simultaneously skeptical about the phenomena, were both a nuisance to me in the film. Probably the best part of the film for me was when Micah obtains a Ouija Board against Katie's wishes in order to communicate with the 'spirit' or whatever is haunting/possessing the house. The video-recorded actions of the 'spirit' were a little entertaining to watch while the couple was gone, but other than that there was not much in it for me.
There were inconsistencies and odd things that bothered me throughout the film.
First there was a scene where Micah sprinkles baby-powder in front of the threshold to the bedroom, and sprinkles more in the hallway, which made me wonder why in the world he would think a 'spirit' would have enough mass and/or weight to leave foot prints.
Secondly, the couple always kept the bedroom door open. If I lived there and thought the 'spirit' could remain outside, I would have put the camera in the living room, and locked the damned door. Why did the stupid couple continue to leave the freaking bedroom door open?
Thirdly, at one point after they'd called in a psychic (Dr Fredrichs) and the psychic leaves (rather shaken) touting that he cannot help them, they contemplate contacting someone who deals with demons (because Micah thinks they're experiencing something demon related instead) but they never contact a demonologist or other related professional. Instead, they continue to suffer the abuse of the entity and it's various antics. At one point Katie states she feels that the 'spirit' is something that keeps "following her" because of a childhood picture Micah finds of her in the attic of the house. It's a picture she hasn't seen in many years.
This picture is a loose thread in the film and hangs out there waiting to connect to something, but it never really does. I still don't understand what the picture had to do with anything. The movie version I watched ended with Katie screaming her butt off while she's downstairs, Micah wakes and runs out of the room, there's a great deal of screaming and stomping and then Miach is brought upstairs and thrown across the room. A bloody Katie is standing at the door, and her demonic looking face ends the film. I've since discovered there's alternate endings to the film, none of which sound much more impressive.
Overall, this film seemed to work hard in order to lend that "real" or "live" approach to the viewer with its home-made action style that helps the viewer feel almost like a voyeur watching a couple experiencing the paranormal. But it either worked too hard or not hard enough, since it was a film that failed to entertain me. I wasn't surprised at anything that happened, nothing made me feel a sense of suspense and by the end of the film I felt like I'd basically wasted a couple hours of my life when I could have read something much more enjoyable.
The film did make me wonder what happened to my own Ouija Board, and I even contemplated searching for it in the depths of my overcrowded garage. But it's dark in there, even with the lights on, and sometimes I hear noises I really don't want to investigate. That being said, I think I'll leave it there.