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Paranormal Activity Review

Movies.com Critics

4.0

Dave White Profile

My roommate, the Blair Witch. Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0
    68

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    "Paranormal" ultimately does deliver in a way that "Blair Witch" never did, but its achingly slow buildup is a test not just of an audience's patience but the power of hype surrounding the latest alternative scary movie.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    No-frills chills are what Paranormal Activity offers in unrelenting supply.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    An ingenious little horror film, so well made it's truly scary.

    Read Full Review

  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    With its this-is-really-happening vibe, Paranormal Activity scrapes away 30 years of encrusted nightmare clichés. The fear is real, all right, because the fear is really in you.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Paranormal Activity reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 16 & under

Indie scare fest doesn't need blood and gore to terrify.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Paranormal Activity is a real chill-up-the-spine movie that's bound to induce nightmares in plenty of young moviegoers -- even though, as with The Blair Witch Project, the big buzz around the movie (and the prospect of testing their backbone) will likely prove irresistible to many teens. The movie takes its cues from many classic horror films in that it only suggests the scary stuff rather than actually showing explicit gore and violence -- but in leaving much to the viewer's imagination, the effect is much, much more psychologically terrifying than any regular blood-fest. Expect frequent strong language (including multiple uses of "f--k" and "s--t") and some sex talk.

  • Families can talk about the concept of random violence, as in the demon's seemingly meaningless attacks on Katie. What would cause someone or something to strike out without a reason? How would this make a person feel?
  • How scary was the movie? What scared you most, and why? How did you feel about being scared?
  • What would be the effect of constantly filming your life?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The main characters' plight is unexplained -- they don't seem to have done anything to "deserve" what they go through. Unfortunately, they also can't agree on the methods or approaches to deal with it, and so most of their work is for naught. But they demonstrate some definite bravery in standing up to the beast.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Micah isn't much of a role model, despite his bravery in trying to face and fight the demon. He constantly disagrees and argues with Katie and often refuses to listen when she asks him for help. He tries to fight the demon in an aggressive, physical way, even though it's clear that it's not going to work. But on the plus side, Katie exhibits definite courage, strength, and good humor in the face of her harrowing problem.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: A simmering violence constantly threatens but rarely cuts loose onscreen -- there's actually very little physical violence, with only the tiniest hint of blood or gore. Micah and Katie argue often.

  • sex false2

    Sex: A young adult couple that lives together talks and jokes about sex fairly often. They both walk around the house in sleeping clothes, consisting of boxer shorts, T-shirts, and tank tops. A female guest shows off her bare midriff. The camera sometimes emphasizes Katie's ample cleavage. The couple has sex one time, but it happens off camera.

  • language false3

    Language: Very liberal use of "f--k" in all its variations, including name-calling (directed toward the invading demon). Other words include "s--t," "ass," "hell," "damn," and "Oh my God." Micah raises his middle finger, twice, in a joking manner.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The couple opens a bottle of wine at dinnertime in an early scene, but we don't really see them drinking it.

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