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      Paranormal Activity Review

      Paranormal Activity poster

      Paranormal Activity

      Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

      Some movies are more of a shared experience than others, and that's certainly the case with "Paranormal Activity," a micro-budget horror flick about things that go bump in the you-know-what in a nice new home. It's opening in select college towns, midnight-only showings, in a handful of theaters. The combination of the late hour and the horror-jazzed audience could make this minimalist chill-fest the new "Blair Witch Project," or so Paramount hopes.

      At the right moments, it is genuinely hair-raising. Something about seeing terror through the viewfinder of a video camera lends it veracity, like watching "America's Scariest Home Videos." "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," "Blair Witch" and "Cloverfield" cashed in on that phenomenon. So does the limply titled "Paranormal Activity."

      Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) are young, rising middle-class unsophisticates who share a two-story house in a San Diego subdivision. But she's hearing things. She's "haunted," she insists. Her can-do beau wires up a camcorder with night vision to record them, day and night, to see what is making all those weird noises. Micah, a day trader, isn't buying her frights, and taunts whatever it is that's scaring her. "That's all you've got? I'm calling you out!"

      Katie summons a psychic, who warns, "You can't run away from this." They should stop payment on his check.

      Night after night, they gather video evidence that something is messing with their relationship, their sleep and the covers on their bed.

      Movies of this price range ($15,000, they say) develop a legend based on their cost, one that sometimes obscures the actual film. This is more fun than most studio horror films that drop into theaters most weekends. Is it scarier? Only occasionally.

      But gather your friends, stay up past your bedtime and catch "Paranormal Activity" as the midnight movie it is. If it doesn't spoil your sleep, at least it'll put a damper on any bedroom camcorder games you have planned.

      MPAA rating: R (for language).

      Running time: 1:26.

      Starring: Katie Featherston (Katie); Micah Sloat (Micah).

      Written and directed by Oren Peli; produced by Peli and Jason Blum. A Paramount Pictures release.

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