A couple decide to document poltergeist-like disturbances in “Paranormal Activity.” They find that, as on reality TV shows, bad behavior tends to worsen when you train a camera on it. Orin Peli’s crew-less debut feature is one of the best genre spins on the pseudo-nonfiction 1st-person-cam since “The Blair Witch Project,” with which it shares improvised performances, no explicit violence or “solution,” and a gradual escalation of chills. Horror fans who value credible creepiness over the usual splatdom will welcome this in suitable fest slots and niche DVD release.
Young, well-off San Diego duo Katie (Katie Featherson) and Micah (Micah Sloat) have lately been experiencing inexplicable thumps in the night. Actually, she’s suffered occasional spookery since childhood–it (or It) seems to follow her around. A psychic specializing in ghosts tells them he can”t help; they need a demonologist. But initially skeptical Micah decides he’ll “take care of it” himself, setting up a nocturnal bedroom surveillance camera (the scariest scenes), bringing a Ouija board home, etc. These are very bad ideas. While leads’ bickering grows tiresome, “Paranormal” succeeds in staying unnervingly “real” even once nifty, modest FX render the invisible visible.