PARANORMAL ACTIVITY FRANCHISE OVERVIEW:
Paranormal Activity (2009) may have the absolute greatest marketing of any film ever made. This film was originally rejected by the Sundance Film Festival in 2007 but thanks to genius marketing somehow finding the right audience, the film became a runaway success when it opened 2 years later. Made on a budget of FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS by Oren Peli, it brought in over $193million!
In order to enjoy this film (now franchise) here are it’s rules :
1) It’s found footage spliced together, from a hand-held and security cameras.
2) The ghost/demon is invisible and so there’s little to no CG.
3) Cameras are set up around the house and you are asked to actively “monitor” the room for changes
4) The films work on a day/night cycle. Scares happen at night, footage is reviewed during the day. This works twofold, giving the audience a chance to relax after “monitoring” the night footage and also anticipating the night-time as ‘scary time’.
5)Attacks (aka jump scares, bangs, light-flickers, rumbling noises with abrupt stops) start off subtle (things moving, stopping), at night, eventually during the day, and continue in increasing violence to the crescendo at the end of the film.
6) There’s a bit of occult storyline thrown in to tie the films together.
7) No we can’t leave the house we don’t have the budget for that.
Point 3 effectively makes this film the worlds’ laziest video-game. The film is asking you to participate by looking for the ghost. So opposed to nothing happening, hey that chair moved, it’s supposed to be “oh God the chair moved!”. The horror buff inside me hates the franchise for what it is, but that said, if you can accept the aforementioned rules and get into it, it can be a lot of fun! To enjoy the film you have to accept the film for what it offers. If you have someone who generally doesn’t watch horror films, they’ll love this franchise.
Another point : Very smartly, some scenes in the trailer do not happen, or do not happen in the same manner as in the final film. This both gives you a taste for the film and swerves you into expecting something else, so the actual scare works better – genius.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2009)
Cast: Katie (Katie Featherston) and her sarcastic boyfriend Micah (Micah Sloat)
Katie and Micah have recently moved house but Katie claims she feels an evil presence. Micah initially dismisses it, but sets up a camera in their bedroom (to look for Paranormal Activity) and checks it during the day. Seeing proof, he initially enjoys the minor hauntings and even buys a ouija board after a psychic tells them a demon is in the house. Of course things turn sour as outlined above.
The film asks a lot of suspension of disbelief and accepting the rules to enjoy the film. Even with that, the ridiculous assertion that Micah would accept not leaving for a motel (as a obviously possessed Katie says it’s grand) is really at breaking point. The snarl/jump into the camera finish is so hackneyed it really ruins whatever goodwill the film has built up. Thankfully on the DVD there exists a few better alternate endings.
Overall: Give it a watch. You may love it…you’ll probably hate it. Accept it’s rules and you can enjoy the film!