Don't Let 'Paranormal Activity's Found-Footage Style Fool You — It's Fake!

Many film fanatics believe 'Paranormal Activity' is based on a true story, but unfortunately (or fortunately), it's purely a work of fiction.

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Oct. 3 2023, Published 4:51 p.m. ET

Katie and Micah in 2007's 'Paranormal Activity.'
Source: Paramount Pictures

The Gist:

  • One of the most profitable films ever made is Paranormal Activity.
  • The supernatural horror movie's success spawned additional films in the series.
  • Despite the found-footage technique, Paranormal Activity is not based on a true story.
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We don't know about you, but we are desperate for more found-footage horror movies. Those types of films were the s--t back in the day, but they've taken a back seat these days. The hype for this film style has also died down, but we'll never forget the fanfare surrounding one of the most successful found-footage horror flicks: Paranormal Activity.

The supernatural horror flick had everyone flocking to their nearest movie theater, and after witnessing that cinematic masterpiece, many wondered if it was based on a true story. Well, is it? Let's find out.

Katie standing in her and Micah's bedroom in 2007's 'Paranormal Activity.'
Source: Paramount Pictures
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So, is 'Paranormal Activity' based on a true story?

There are several reasons why film buffs might think Paranormal Activity is based on a true story, but spoiler alert: It's not. Yes, you read that right — Paranormal Activity is purely a work of fiction.

The line between fact and fiction was blurred before the flick even hit theaters, and as it turns out, Paranormal Activity arrived right around the time "based on a true story" became associated with low-budget horror films. Now, with that said, it's no wonder so many people assumed the Katie Featherston-led movie was dramatizing real-life events.

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However, the filmmaker, Oren Peli, reportedly drew inspiration from his own life. When he moved into his San Diego house alone without family nearby, Oren heard creaks and knocks at night. This led to him thinking about how a video camera might document what was going on, which laid the groundwork for the movie.

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"My first instinct wasn't that the house was haunted, but it did get me to think about what was going on," he explained to the Chris Jones Filmmaker Blog in 2010. "It led me to the idea of what if someone did think their house was haunted and wanted to prove or disprove it, so they set up a video camera."

"Then, what if they let it play all night and the next day saw something scary in the footage?" the filmmaker added. "I was inspired by slower-paced horror films like The Blair Witch Project and Rosemary's Baby, where the audience has to use their imagination more to get the scares."

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