Scary film proves to surprise viewers.

Avi Yashaya

“Paranormal Activity,” if you have not heard of it yet, is a recently released ultra-low budget horror film riding an enormous wave of scary good hype. The film centers around a young couple who are victims of bizarre hauntings. It is receiving flattering praise from critics and fans alike and already being declared one of the scariest films of all time; quite a statement to live up to. While first time director Oren Peli may not be startled at the success, he is truly humbled that fans are enjoying it, and in a unique marketing move fans are showing their embrace by “demanding” it democratically.

The system allows for excited fans and curious skeptics to ask for the movie to play in their cities and with enough requests, Paramount, the studio behind the film’s release, will respond by expanding it. This genius strategy is fueled by strong word of mouth and “so far it seems to be working pretty well.” Last week “Paranormal,” which only cost roughly $11,000, cracked the Box Office top 10 playing in only 200 theaters. The budget did not seem to phase the assured director when faced with the constraints of a limited budget. “Basically a lot of them and most of them I ended up using for my advantage,” he said.

This freak out movie is proving to be a surprise hit and is gathering the mountainous levels of excitement and comparisons to another low budget handy-cam horror movie, “The Blair Witch Project.” Peli, who is a fan of the mockumentary style since his much less obvious influence “Spinal Tap” notes, “‘Blair Witch’ definitely showed that if it’s done right with good acting and good writing and good editing, that type of movie can actually be very commercially successful. So that was definitely an influence.” But “Paranormal” hardly follows the formula set forth from that film, actually its unconventionality and realism combine to make the experience a breath of fresh air for horror enthusiasts.

Perhaps it’s because Peli’s influences fall in line with masters of suspense and cinema auteurs that strike the delicate balance between show and tell over bloody spectacle. “Hitchcock definitely was one. I would say another one is probably M. Night because his style is also kind of more of a slow build and paying attention to the acting and the story rather relying on heavy special effects.” Those guys, and now Peli, are legitimizing horror cinema after being saturated to the brim with slasher flicks and exercises in torture (the real torture is another “Saw” movie). It goes to show you that, “you know, even with virtually no budget and just a video camera if you have a good idea you can just shoot a movie on your own and hopefully it turns out good.” Paranormal Activity may be whats keeping you up at night lately but its success in spite of enormous limitations is actually inspiring, nothing scary ab