31 Days of Horror: Paranormal Activity

When the calendar page turns to October, we Rejects have only one thought: horror. To celebrate this grandest and darkest of months, we’ll cover one excellent horror film a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 31 Films perfect for viewing on a dark, chilly, October night. If you, like us, love horror and Halloween, give us a Hell Yeah and keep coming every day this month for a new dose of adrenaline.

Synopsis: A young couple living in a bland San Diego tract house become increasingly disturbed by mysterious events that take place while they’re asleep. At first the happenings are fairly tame: doors opening and closing on their own, lights flickering on and off – pretty standard haunted house phenomena. But the terror mounts as the incidents get progressively more threatening and they come to determine it might be the work of a demon. The best way to get to the bottom of it? Set up a video camera and record what goes on once the lights go out.

Killer Scene: It depends which of the three endings you’ve seen.  I still think the last scene of the theatrical release delivers the best jolt. But in the interest of offering a spoiler-free write-up I’ll go with a different scene altogether – when Katie gets dragged out of bed and down the hall by seemingly nothing. It’s the moment when everything changes and the perceived threat becomes real.


Violence: For a movie that’ll scare the bejeezus out of you, there’s surprisingly little violence. Most of the real action happens off screen – to great effect.

Sex: None, unless you count when they turn the camera off and then turn it back on looking slightly sweatier. But I suspect most of you don’t. It warrants half a point for the suggestion.

Scares: Plenty of ’em. While watching this for the second time I thought that a lot of the original fright factor was gone, but as I kept watching I noticed my hands clutching the armrest of my chair tighter and tighter. This movie is a slow burn – the terror escalates bit-by-bit, building up to the final terrifying scene. The turning point for me is when Katie gets out of bed in the middle of the night and just stands there for hours. The clock at the bottom of the screen speeds up and the hours pass by without her moving. Never did I think someone standing still for hours at a time could be so eff’n scary.

Final Thoughts: The reason this movie works so well is because it takes something so average – average couple, average house, average relationship – and makes it utterly terrifying. Like A Nightmare on Elm Street before it, it plays into the vulnerability we all experience while we’re asleep. You can set up a video camera to capture everything that goes on, but ultimately it makes no difference. You’ve gotta go to sleep, and when you do you leave yourself completely vulnerable to whatever might be lurking in the shadows. It could happen to anyone.

Sleep tight dear readers.

Lauren Flanagan is a freelance film and entertainment writer based in Toronto. She writes for several online and print publications and hopes to one day prove to her parents that sitting around watching movies is in fact doing something with your life. She enjoys gangster movies, long walks on the beach, and getting the upper hand. In her spare time she drives around in a van solving mysteries.

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