Paranormal Activity is an entertaining low-budget little fake reality video build on the Blair Witch concept: To make a successful horror movie, let the audience scare themselves.
That said, it’ll take more than a demon to scare us Pinoys, who live in the same archipelago as clan Ampatuan.
So the nice young couple Micah and Katie get a camera to record the bizarre goings-on in their house. In true Heisenbergian fashion the presence of the camera spurs the unseen whatnot into making its presence felt. It’s a comment on our reality show-obsessed times that when Micah hears a crash downstairs he grabs the camera and runs to shoot it. The two actors are believably not acting, and Micah’s guy behavior is authentic: instead of seeking outside help he keeps trying to fix the problem himself. It’s the same behavior guys exhibit when lost: they refuse to ask for directions.
Compared to Americans the average Filipino is an expert on the paranormal. Face it, life on our islands IS paranormal. At the first sign of a haunting we would know to:
1. Turn on every light in the house.
2. Run to the neighbor’s house, assuming they’re not already at your door to investigate the noise.
3. Leave the house posthaste and go to the mall or to your parents’ house, someplace with lots of people. The mamaw may be connected to the girl and not the house, but it would have to deal with more people. Nosy, interfering people.
4. Consult a psychic, arbolaryo, priest, mambabarang, exorcist, or mangkukulam immediately.
5. Alert the news media to get everyone involved.
6. Freak out the mamaw by behaving even more weirdly than it does.
As the beleaguered couple hole up in their nice haunted house it occurred to me that Paranormal Activity is a metaphor for the American financial meltdown. There’s clearly something wrong, but they refuse to deal with it directly; they go into lockdown and shut out the rest of the world. They hang on to their touching faith in technology and belief in the D-I-Y ethic, never considering that there are things going on that are beyond their comprehension.
When the movie ended I got a text message from Fabia: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is running for a seat in the House. I got chills.