EXAMINING MICAH: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY’S OTHER MAIN CHARACTER
As a fan of the Paranormal Activity series that is now into multiple installments, I thought I ‘d take a look back at the original film and do a little exploring of the film’s other main character, the ill-fated Micah, who, for obvious reasons, has been left behind as the series moves forward…
The character of Katie is the one that usually gets all the attention from fans of the Paranormal Activity series as she is an important character both as a child and now as an adult and has played a part in each film. Also because Miss Featherston seems more than happy to be the spokeswoman for the series during their release. Micah is actually a major player in his own way. His character and actions allow events to unfold that not only, and obviously, effect the outcome of Paranormal Activity, but thusly allow for the events that follow to unfold now that the series has been continued and the mythos is expanding.
At the onset Micah doesn’t seem to be a bad guy. At heart, I don’t think he is. He is a young, fairly handsome day trader who seems to have a genuine love for his girlfriend, Katie. He does have an obnoxious but funny sense of humor (so do I so, I can relate) and from what little we see of their life before the activity starts, he seems to be like most guys his age, into music and gadgets and making money. He seems like the college frat boy type and might actually be fun to hang out with at a party or a pub. Probably the guy who always tries to be the life of the party and center of attention. Maybe even the class clown as a kid. He’s cocky, but gives the impression that he can be very sweet especially when he doesn’t have an audience to play up to and he is alone with Katie. No more evidence than when her friend, Amber comes over and Micah suddenly becomes the demon crushing alpha male.
Initially he seems genuinely concerned and protective of his girlfriend despite being very skeptical of there being anything supernatural going on. Just the fact that he has bought the camera to record whatever is happening, despite his intense doubts, shows he cares enough about Katie to try to solve this little mystery for her, to put her mind at ease. The same can be said of his agreeing with her to invite the psychic into their home, despite his disbelief. But it also shows the first signs of a personality trait that will ultimately be his undoing and set in motion events that will carry on for years as the current series timeline suggests. As he openly, but admittedly playfully , mocks Katie and the idea of the psychic, we start to see evidence that cockiness is giving way to a larger character trait that will become his biggest character flaw. A trait that will ultimately blind him to not only realizing there is something really dangerous going on, but will blind him to the fact that his courses of action are doing his girlfriend far more harm then good…
Micah is more than cocky, he is arrogant. He is determined to solve this mystery himself. Early on it comes across as typical male pride like not asking directions when lost, but as the situation worsens, his arrogance grows to the point of dangerous, as he refuses to admit he has a problem requiring him to swallow that pride and call those who can deal with it. Arrogance to the point of ignoring that he is actually putting Katie in further danger. Arrogance that plays into their supernatural guest’s plans perfectly.
Micah’s arrogance makes him completely manipulatable by the demonic entity which has throughout the film shown an intelligence and an ability to do exactly that with both characters. This is an aspect of this film that detractors overlook, how cleverly this invisible character manipulates and breaks down our young couple using Micah’s pride and Katie’s fear against them. As for Micah’s arrogance aiding this malevolent spirit, look no further then the sequence of events involving the ouija board. Katie forbids Micah to bring one into the house, but he arrogantly uses a loophole in the wording of his promise to bring one into the house anyway. He ‘borrows’ one instead of ‘buying’ one. This creates a major wedge between the characters that never really heals and this allows the demon to isolate Katie enough to wear her down. She no longer feels as close to Micah as he not only betrayed her trust, but even when he knows how upset Katie is, he refuses to let the subject drop widening the gap between them further. Regardless of how hurt and angry she is, he obviously still thinks he is right. Micah’s arrogant pride continues to allow him to believe he can somehow deal with this entity on his own, despite it being obvious, he is in over his head and his girlfriend is at risk. The more he challenges this being, the more negative energy he creates and the more he empowers it. The more it frightens Katie, the more arrogant Micah becomes about dealing with it on his own terms. It also weakens his girlfriend because, she already knows Micah can’t face this thing and she feels isolated, afraid and helpless as he refuses to get her proper help. There is also a touch of resentment and anger toward Micah as he accomplishes little and she continues to be victimized. Even worse, his inability to solve the problem triggers insecurities which even has him lashing out at Katie, alienating her further. The final act of arrogance is to destroy Katie’s cross which was the last thing she felt she could turn to for help once their relationship disintegrates. Their faith is never discussed, but at this point Katie was turning to God for help with the cross as a physical symbol to hold onto. Micah destroys it in anger, symbolically destroying Katie’s last foothold of strength and hope. Now alone and weakened to the breaking point, the demon finally possesses poor Katie which leads to Micah’s death at her hands and then the killing of her sister and family, the taking of her nephew and the death of a few others as the series continues. His arrogance lead to his own doom and the death of others and a possible worse fate for Katie depending on where this series takes her. The sad irony here is that right before this final horrifying moment, Micah concedes defeat and offers to take Katie away, his love finally overcoming his arrogant ego and agreeing to leave the home he was fighting for to save her. Unfortunately too late, as the evil has already taken hold and he actually meets his fate charging in to save a screaming Katie and right into the demon’s trap as his possessed girlfriend murders him. Personally, I feel this does redeem the character somewhat for his arrogance as he does die trying to save her.
Obviously, if Micah was a different person and had properly gotten help there would have been no movie, much less a series, but it doesn’t remove the fact that within the mythos, Micah’s character allows for important and tragic things to happen and sets in motion events that are still expanded on as the series continues. With all that being said, it wouldn’t be fair to not acknowledge actor Micah Sloat for his contribution to the character. A lot of Paranormal Activity was improvisation, with Sloat and actress Katie Featherston improvising their dialogue with story direction from director Oren Peli. There was no script in the traditional sense and both actors deserve a lot of credit for creating their characters and giving them personality and emotional depth. The actors’ chemistry makes them very believable as a couple, no more evident than Micah’s scenes in Paranormal Activity 2 where, after a 3 year plus gap between the filming of PA1 and PA2, the two once again come across as a real couple and you get to glimpse a bit more of Micah’s warmer side. This re-enforces the notion that is not really a bad guy, just one whose pride overcomes his common sense. Sadly, to a tragic end. So, we must give Sloat the props he is due for creating a very human and ultimately tragic character that both amused us and pissed us off all at the same time and obviously is integral to the success of the first film and thus the series.
You can take a look at Katie Featherston’s character and some of the other recent ladies of horror in ‘Why Do Good Scares Like Bad Girls?’