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The Columbus Movie Weekend Discovers “Paranormal Activity,” But Is It Really That Scary?

With stars like Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, how can a scary movie miss? I’m kidding. But no one’s laughing at the major cash being pulled in by Paranormal Activity, with zero star power, a micro budget of $15,000 and a director, Oren Peli, with no experience outside of programming software. There hasn’t been this kind of heat generated by an unknown horror cheapie since The Blair Witch Project hit pay dirt ten years ago. Paramount started the viral buzz (blogs, Facebook, Twitter) a few weeks back with midnight screenings in a dozen college towns. Shockingly, folks lined up to watch a babe (Featherston) and her boyfriend (Sloat) get freaked out by noises in their San Diego home, inciting him to set up a night vision video camera while they sleep to catch what’s out there. That’s it.

The studio asked audiences outside the selected towns to go on the movie’s website and vote if they wanted the movie at their local multiplex. They did just that. For the Columbus Day weekend, Paranormal Activity hit 40 cities, brought in a whopping $7.9 million and more than one million requests to show the movie in other cities. The demand will bring a nationwide roll out next weekend. Let’s see how much demand is left for Couples Retreat after word of mouth takes aim at its initial success.

My three questions today are for those of you who have seen Paranormal Activity:

• Is Paranormal Activity more than just a clever marketing campaign?

• How does it stack up in scares with The Blair Witch Project?

• What’s the scene that creeps you out the most?

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