Friday, January 1, 2010

Paranormal Activity Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 19.5 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: ABC

Paranormal Activity comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation with two different endings included via seamless branching. The look of the film itself is what keeps the video presentation score low for this one, while the transfer is accurate to the viewing I had theatrically, it's still not pretty whatsoever. I can respect a stylistic choice, and in this case I would be lying if I said it did not benefit from a high-def transfer.

Some may argue that the stylistic choices make this one to watch exclusively on DVD, but in fact the Blu-ray is more accurate as the character Micah used a high-def camera to film the activity. What we get on Blu-ray has some quite good high-def moments, most issues stemming from lighting and of course a few downsides of consumer available cameras.

Day time moments of course look much better than the night moments and it was quite obvious they would be. Colors are good on the release, not very rich but not very bland either. Detail is not always so strong, but I didn't expect it to be. Shots do vary in quality, some are slightly out of focus and more so in others.

Overall if you are going to watch Paranormal Activity, it's best to watch it on Blu-ray. No viewing option is necessarily going to amaze visually, but the upgrade in clarity is very easy to appreciate on this high-def release. Overall the transfer seems accurate to an intentionally mediocre source. 7/10.

A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included and is generally quite good and fitting, we really got the camera perspective feel in the mix, with improved audio thanks to the mic Micah bought to capture the noise.

What bugged me about the audio track though is the use of bass during the nighttime scenes, I understand it was used to create tension, but I thought the film was about being from the camera perspective...meaning no thrown in cinema effects. The real 'Paranormal Activity' in this film is clear, they leave their home theater on before going to bed and begin to hear their floors rumble and bangs from downstairs.

In all seriousness though, apart from the bass use I thought it was very fitting and engaging to the intention. It's not going to impress either, but it makes the experience more authentic. Don't buy this if you are thinking you will get a freaky mix like Drag Me To Hell as not much happens in the film sound-wise. 7/10.


Alternate Ending (HD)
The alternate ending is included for viewing in the film itself as well as separately. I found the alternate ending to be much worse than the theatrical version present on the Blu-ray release.

Shutter Island Trailer (HD)
A trailer for an other Paramount Pictures release is included as an extra, the movie doesn't even look that great. We shall see.

Digital Copy
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

Extras are extremely bland on this release, we get no behind-the-scenes of production nor do we get a theatrical trailer for the film. No audio commentary, really almost nothing. I see a double-dip for Paranormal Activity by 2011. It's a film that screams for behind-the-scenes footage. 2/10.

Blu-news Summary
Paranormal Activity, a low budget film that became a box office sensation. I must admit I had been slow to get into the Paranormal Activity buzz, it never captured my attention until I began to see limited screening advertisements for it. After actually seeing advertisements I became immediately interested in viewing the film as soon as possible.

I had a chance to see it before it got a full theatrical opening and I was slightly disappointed by the film. The movie was not necessarily what I expected. Paramount Pictures had some great marketing for this release, it actually looks like a very freaky film from the promotional trailers produced with audience reaction. To be honest though, the film is not very scary at all. I have no shame in admitting when a film scares me, even if others don't find it to be, but I think the majority of viewer reaction will be like mine in this case.

The best word to describe the movie is creepy with a bit of after affect. I did not jump from the film, but I did jump later when walking down a hall in my home at night and hearing noises from an empty room. It's an effect that's been described by many people I've discussed the film with, it makes you think about the little noises in your home, unintentionally.

While the movie is not scary whatsoever, it's still a fun viewing, particularly one with family or friends. It's great for those who get scared easily by films and those new to Paranormal Activity, otherwise it severly lacks replay value. After you have seen the film once, viewing it again becomes quite boring and bland experience, particularly the first 40 minutes of the film.

Overall I think the film is something you should rent first before considering a purchase. Trust me, this is not one you want to purchase unless you know what to expect first. Some may enjoy watching the film over and over again, but to me I think it becomes bland after one viewing. The first time viewing though is definitely fun and quite creepy. 7.5/10.

The Blu-ray release itself is quite good and if you are going to buy or rent the film, I would easily recommend the Blu-ray release over the DVD. The clarity present is much better and it looks quite good on my high-def projector as well as HDTVs. The film itself keeps this disc as 'A Solid Rental.'

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