An effective, empty, one-trick pony of a "movie". It's remarkable how successful this movie (I refuse to call this a 'film') was given it's zero dollar budget, non-experienced actors, and one location ten day shoot. Cheap thrills can only get you so far. What does this say about Oren Peli's as a director? Nothing. It's a novel concept that is pushed to its limits and can barely sustain it's short 86 minute run time.
Contesting number 3 for my favourite in the series, the first PA film benefitted greatly from taking tips from the Blair Witch Project– featuring a lot of natural (improvised) dialogue and genuinely scared actors. The low budget forced the creators to seriously consider their scares, to a much better effect than in the sequels. Some story inconsistency is there in terms of the sequels, but it's not overly jarring.
A good horror film, from the times when the formula of watching lost video footage was still (kind of) fresh. It's not a bad idea at all, fits well the "haunted house" setting. Plenty of still and silent scenes which are genuinely tense and scary. Unfortunately, it slowly becomes a routine (noises, footsteps at night), the atmosphere takes a nosedive, becoming rather silly towards the end, not to mention the ending.
A clever, well written film boasting effective sound design and two enjoyably naturalistic performances from it's leads. These virtues do not, however, save it from being a rather underwhelming movie (although I acknowledge that it might have been considerably more effective in the cinema).