I respect the original Paranormal Activity. I think that the slow, regional release they used was a smart move. Through clever viral marketing and word of mouth it built itself up to be THE hot horror movie of 2007. Not only that but what it did with $15,000 is pretty astounding. It created a movie that frightened a lot of people with next to nothing money wise. I was not one of those people.
By the time it came out here I had seen the trailers, seen the commercials and was really hyped to see the movie. For the next 86 minutes I sat there in boredom. Every single “scare” I saw was already etched in my mind from the commercials. Heck the trailer gave away the big shock ending. Maybe it was a case of over hype but needless to say I was disappointed. Needless to say I had little faith in the franchise. But like any good franchise it just wouldn’t die. After skipping the 2010 sequel and much convincing I saw the latest in the series, Paranormal Activity 3.
In 1988, young sisters Katie and Kristi befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home.
Well, that plot tells you everything and nothing all at the same time. Thanks IMDB! First and foremost I want to say bravo to the marketers for finally figuring it out. Most, if not all, of the footage in the trailers and commercials is not in the movie. In a specific type of movie, like the found footage genre, this kind of stuff is critical. On the one hand you want to advertise your movie; on the other you don’t want to give away all your scares. What they seemed to do was use alternate or deleted scenes. They also eliminated, or at least lowered, the amount of noise the demon makes. Again, in a movie without a soundtrack this kind of thing is important in building suspense.
I think that the directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost (directors of 2010’s Catfish) did a good job overall. Obviously there are going to be limitations in this type of movie but Schulman and Joost do the best that they can. The acting is….. well it’s acting alright. It’s not that the acting is bad; I just found everyone to be annoying and didn’t feel sorry for anyone. If that’s the point, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! As it is I think I was supposed to at least like the kids and I could care less about them. They’re being chased, they aren’t, whatever. Get to the wacky “My goodness, we’re all screwed” ending. The usual lack of character development that comes with these types of movies doesn’t help at all.
This brings me to another issue, the plot. Now it may be because I didn’t see PA2 which is on me. But the movie takes a complete left turn towards the end. The big bad evil felt so thrown together to me. Another problem I had with the movie was the genuine lack of scares in the movie. Maybe there will be others who walk away going “I won’t sleep for a week” and to them, great. I’m glad you had a good time. But for me it felt too gimmicky. It felt like there were more “Haha that wasn’t the demon, just a goof” scares than “Holy crap, what the heck was that” scares. To me that kind of horror is much cheaper than if it makes you feel like it could or has happened. Perhaps it’s just a personal quirk but that kind of is always a downgrade.
It seems crazy but less than 5 years ago that Paranormal Activity came out and swept the nation. Like some kind of disease it caught everybody surprise and filled them with shock and terror. Well everybody but me. I dealt with it and went on with life. 4 years later it has come back around and finally affected me. This prequel to the popular series has all the flaws of the original (poor character development, lack of any real scares, unlikable characters). However as the budget for the series goes up so has their ability to promote the movie in a way where you’re surprised throughout. Add in two good up-and-coming directors and you get a fun romp into this family’s personal hell. If you are a fan of the series you’ll dig this flick. If you aren’t, well at least you won’t completely despise it.
So a couple of months ago I went to a local theater titled The Royale. I had plans to do a big 3-pack review but that fell through due to laziness. IDK, things happen. I had three reviews planned but only one was actually finished. It’s a short little deal reviewing an independent found footage movie called Grave Encounters.
Lance Preston and the crew of “Grave Encounters”, a ghost-hunting reality television show, are shooting an episode inside the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, where unexplained phenomena has been reported for years. On the quest to expose the truth, and scare their viewers, the “Grave Encounters” crew conduct background interviews with current psychologists, as well as provide disturbing archival footage of patients in the earlier half of the century. All in the name of good television, they voluntarily lock themselves inside the building for the night and begin a paranormal investigation, capturing everything on camera. They quickly realize that the building is more than just haunted – it is alive – and it has no intention of ever letting them leave. They find themselves lost in a labyrinth maze of endless hallways and corridors, terrorized by the ghosts of the former patients. They soon begin to question their own sanity, slipping deeper and deeper into the depths of madness, ultimately discovering the truth behind the hospital’s dark past…and taping what turns out to be their final episode.
If there’s two things I hate its ghost hunting shows and the over hype of Paranormal Activity. I mean, we all know that the Ghost Hunters and whoever fake quite a bit. Whether you believe or not, this is a fact. Paranormal Activity was just boring 90% of the time and the only bit of excitement were in every trailer and commercial. Grave Encounters had the task of combining the two and still being a good movie. I am glad to say that it did both swimmingly.
As far as the haunting stuff, it’s done pretty well. Nothing too crazy or original but there were quite a few cool moments. Outside one or two kills it generally delivers each time. The CG wasn’t the best but it worked out quite well. I also liked the pacing of the movie. Unlike Paranormal Activity, which it is most akin to, it doesn’t feel like a chore to go through. It keeps the pace fairly high throughout so no real moments of boredom. I also liked the fact that all of the characters fit their mold. Like Micah from PA, the guy’s a douche. The thing is, I have no clue whether he’s supposed to be likable or not. At least with GE it makes no qualms that the host of the show and “psychic” complete douchebags. The negatives are basically the fact that it brings nothing really new to the table (like Last Exorcism before the climax), is pretty predictable and the acting can be over-the-top at times. But overall, if you are okay with the found footage genre, its worth checking out.
Side note, despite my complaints I want to see Paranormal Activity 3. If for no other reason than it takes place in the 80’s/early 90’s and the cameras were huge. Not sure why but I think that is hilarious.