Paranormal Activity: Is It Really THAT Scary?

Recently, I’ve been hearing a ton of hype about “Paranomal Activity”–the “Blair Witch”-esque movie about a couple who films a few nights in their haunted house with a video camera and subsequently documents everything. Most of the reviews have been stellar, but as a writer I know we tend to hype things up to be more than they really are in order to develop a good story and create a situation to draw readers in.  So, while I’m not saying “Paranomal Activity” might not be scary, I am asking are we setting this movie up to be more scary than it really is? Take a look at some of the recent highlights from reviews:

“After watching Paranormal Activity, you might be inclined to sleep with the lights on for a week or four.” -JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

“The sneak preview audience was gasping and shrieking throughout. A couple of teenage girls had to leave the theater midway through and sat huddled on a bench in the lobby. It’s that freaky.” -Capitol Times

“It’s the scariest movie of the year.” -LA Weekly

“It’s one of the scariest movies of all-time. YOU WILL BE AFFECTED as it’s hard to ignore the imprint it leaves on your psyche. You know it’s fake, and yet, you can’t shake it. Nightmares are guaranteed.” -Bloody Disgusting

I understand that as a reviewer if you like a movie, you want to make others go see it, but I think sometimes we get a little too carried away in making a “soundbite” that we build up the film to be more than it really is.  And as word of mouth travels, you have to build up your story to make it sound better and more interesting than the last one.   At least all of these writers are guilty of creating a sentence that they knew could be used as a soundbite.  But how truthful are they?

While I won’t know how scary the film is until I actually see it, I can say the preview didn’t make me jump once.

So, what do you guys think?  For those of you who have seen it, is it as good as reviewers are predicting or was it a letdown?  And for those of you who haven’t, do you think this is all just a marketing ploy to create a cult classic from a movie that’s basically just a “Blair Witch” rip-off?

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