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Reviews: ‘Paranormal Activity’ and more

October 27, 2009
By Tony Rutherford
You’re sound asleep; you roll over, briefly awaken to a loud sound somewhere, you close your eyes then hear it coming closer.

That’s the pertinent scenario for a reoccurring nightmare. Depending on when you actually fall out of the sack, you may dream until the night dream has you pinned to the pillow gasping for air.

Call this the outline for “Paranormal Activity.” Except the house isn’t haunted; it’s the guy’s girl friend, Katie (Katie Featherston), who has for years complained of something following her. After a veiled joke about untold baggage before moving in together, Micah (Micah Sloat) summons a psychic. Opening the door and he’s done; you need an exorcist referral.

Male ego pounding, Micah wants to capture whatever it is on tape. He thinks it will then go away. She doesn’t.

After a yawning 30 minutes of a couple running around in their shorts and barefeet, “Paranormal” begins to step up the inexplicable, starting with a moving sheet, bouncing bed, footprints, and a sleepwalking lady.

How laborious to rewind and fast forward day after day. The couple misses a snippet that certainly demonstrates that an empty house, Ouija board, and spontaneous combustion has an uninvited invisible guest. 

Pay attention to the negative energy accelerates remark. As the couple’s nerves tighten arguments ensue.

Flatly maintaining the turn the camera on and bring the camera obsession, “Paranormal Activity” incorporates the “Cloverfield,” “Quarantine,” and “Blair Witch” point-of-view camera perspective (also used impressively by John Carpenter in the original “Halloween”). Little manifestations bring larger ones with no explanation.

You may not empathetically attach due to the editing, which covers several weeks. Those fade-outs and cuts detract and deflate. It’s the burning of the picture in an otherwise empty living room that seals the fright ratio. From that moment, the demonic presence takes control.

Micah and Katie have acutely synchronized acting abilities. You always view their conversations as plucked from reality, rather than staged.

Having gained a scariest movie of the year rep, “Paranormal Activity” will not be a smoothly orchestrated excursion. It has screams; it has sputters; you will think about it when you go to bed since a large portion of the scenes involve a bed, linens, pillows, and two people rolling and tumbling during their snooze.

∫ Law Abiding Citizen: What is justice? For the crime victim, it’s severe consequences for the perpetrator. Under the rule of law, the rules change —- the police have to jump through lots of procedural non-rights violation hoops, have solid admissible evidence, a jury that renders a 12-0 verdict, and a tough judge to give a maximum sentence.

More complicated from a random vigilante thriller, “Law Abiding Citizen” pummels an extreme example where the survivor (Clyde Shelton played by Gerald Butler) of a murderous home invasion happens to have Rambo styled Special Forces training and assassination skills from a stint with the CIA (or an equivalent).

Charles Bronson popularized striking back at muggers in a series of ‘70s flicks under the “Death Wish” franchise. When the plea-bargained murderers start dropping in agony, Shelton’s unflappable and manipulative persona places him in a Hannibal Lector category. He inhibits audience identification due to the growing extinct of his psychosis.

Can you imagine the straightforward voice uttering, “Good evening, Mr. Phelps” to a cunning, cerebral agent who’s plotting vengeance where the non-punished fall into a chainsaw massacre chamber of terrors?

Losing the fallible morality debates of “Star Chamber,” “And Justice for All” or “Walking Tall,” the degree of calculated mutilation and Shelton’s ‘just business’ non-responsiveness to deaths increasingly distanced from the two killers of his family pushes the film past the ‘justice’ line in the sand.

“Law Abiding” recovers its mojo as Jamie Foxx (the embattled prosecutor) absorbs details and quickly sweeps the slaughter emphasis to a caper solving mystery.

UN-PREVIEWED:

∫ Amelia: We know Miss Earhart (Hillary Swank) won’t make it around the world in her plane, but a slight buzzer predicts Swank could strike award nomination goal as this early Aviatrix.

∫ Saw VI: Shawnee Smith said we learn more about the characters and their motivations. She also warned the sets were as disturbing as the finished product.

∫ This Is It: The King of Pop’s last stand. Will the edited together bits and pieces from his rehearsals from the world tour that was not to happen, be electrifying or solemn? The King of Pop reigns at cinemas starting Oct. 28.

∫ The Box: Can’t wait based on the preview. A young couple (Cameron Diaz, James Marsden) receives a mysterious delivery. They’re told by pressing the button a million bucks goes in their bank account, but somewhere a stranger dies. Visually and aesthetically, this has potential of a bizarre “Twilight Zone” intelligent thriller. It’s set for Nov. 6.



Contact Tony at trutherford@graffitiwv.com

Fact Box

? “Paranormal Activity” — Three stars out of five
? “Law Abiding Citizen” — Two and a half stars out of five

 
 

 

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