Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston) are an ordinary couple facing an extraordinary situation. Fearing their house is haunted, the pair purchases a video camera, looking to tape their sleeping hours to capture whatever ghostly entity is in the area. As the days tick by and experts weigh in on their situation, Micah and Katie grow frustrated with the lack of results, only finding fragments of activity on the playback. However, the mysterious noises and swaying doors soon add up, terrifying the couple and putting severe stress on their relationship.
Presented as an assembly of found footage from the local police, “Activity” is the story of a haunting as captured by the haunted. The video is crude hand-held material, depicting the domestic intimacy of the couple between the spurts of terror. They flirt and whine, playing for the camera in a manner that expresses pre-marital comfort, but Micah and Katie are growing increasingly distressed, and the camera monitors their every twitch of fear.
Messing around with Ouija boards, demonology experts, attic investigation, and featuring a plethora of spooky sound effects, “Activity” hits a few highlights of suspense. The stark, homemade quality of the film helps to encourage a creepy atmosphere of the unknown during the sleeping footage, and there are plenty of jolts to keep viewers on edge, but only for a short amount of time. Director Oren Peli doesn’t tighten the noose quickly enough, leaving much of the film a slow burn to nowhere. Events do intensify in the final act, but it’s a long haul to get to the good stuff. Truthfully, “Activity” would’ve made a cracking short film, with all the obvious pauses removed for a more streamlined and effective viewing experience.
Refreshingly, something is actually after Micah and (specifically) Katie, keeping the feature from becoming a shameless tease. It’s a neat concept, but “Paranormal Activity” only contains a few effective sequences, making all the heavy breathing, bickering, and weeping something of a chore to endure.