JANUARY 6, 2010
“You know this is Paranormal ENTITY, right? Not Activity?” Ah, the Blockbuster staff, always trying to keep me from watching complete shit. But I laughed and explained to the girl* that that was precisely why I was renting the movie, as I had to know what The Asylum was going to do with a movie that had a budget less than that of their usual productions. While their nonsense like Transmorphers and The Day The Earth Stopped couldn’t possibly compete with its big-screen brethren, Paranormal Entity’s namesake film only cost 11,000 dollars itself, which means that for the first time, the excuse “we didn’t have as much money” couldn’t possibly apply (not that I ever really give that argument much weight anyway; a case I’ve made several times in the past). In fact, it’s theoretically possible that this film had a HIGHER budget than the real one.
So I guess we have definitive proof that The Asylum just plain sucks. I can’t blame the director, writer, or actors for this snoozefest, because they opted not to give them any credit (and the film has no IMDb page), so I’ll chalk it up to their lazy approach to filmmaking. Unlike most of the films they ripoff, they must have actually had a copy of PA to work from (or they shot this thing last month after pooling their money together to send someone to the theater to see it), because several of the “scares” are stolen directly from Oren Peli’s film - the loud thumping footsteps, the broken photo frame directly over someone’s face, sheets being pulled away, sleepwalking outside in the middle of the night, etc.
What they DON’T have, however, are likable characters. Some folks thought Micah was a bit of a douche, but I thought he was pretty normal, and Katie was cute/not dumb (people who thought they should just leave apparently didn’t pay attention - the ghost was following her all her life). But these folks (a mother and two teenage children played by 25 year olds) just constantly bicker, and it’s not until the final 2 minutes of the movie that someone (a fourth character - a paranormal investigator who looks and acts exactly like the one in PA) points out that the ghost will “probably” follow them if they leave, so until then you’re just saying “Why the fuck aren’t they leaving?” (unless the film’s gotta-be-illegal swipes from PA make you think that it’s the same deal and the ghost is after them before that point anyway).
They also don’t have Peli’s skill at setting up the layout of the house, or his ability to create dread. I never quite got where any of the rooms were in relation to another, and it wasn’t until late in the film that I even realized that there was a 2nd floor. Worse, the main kid (who we only see like twice) has set up at LEAST four cameras (Micah had one), which further deflates things. Katie might walk downstairs while we watch Micah sleep, and our minds make up what’s happening. This movie simply switches to another one of his cameras, and the character does nothing interesting. So it’s doubly stupid.
Also, what the fuck do these people DO for a living? They never leave the house, nor do they seem to have work-from-home jobs or anything of that nature. But the dude can afford four nice cameras somehow. Then again, maybe the family saved money from not buying things for their rooms. The mother’s has a nice little piece of wall art and a canopy bed, but the sister’s room is a bed and a dresser and a crucifix, and that’s it. No posters or photos, no clothing on the floor, nothing. At one point the brother opens her dresser and in the top drawer is her journal and a scarf. Maybe I was wrong, maybe they DID spend less than Peli did for his film.
And it’s poorly made, no shock there. There’s a scene in which the sister claims she is getting ready for bed when you can clearly see that it’s still broad daylight outside. The faux improvisation usually just means that the actors swear at each other, and Mr. Anonymous Movie Director blows his wad by giving us a scrawl at the top of the film that informs us that the brother killed himself after being accused of killing (and raping, though I’m not sure where the hell that came from) his sister and the paranormal investigator. So you wait around 80 minutes for them to get to that point. I know Blair Witch had the “this is the found footage” thing, but they didn’t go into specifics, and we don’t know for sure that any of them are dead anyway.
Plus it’s simply not scary or interesting. Something falls off the wall or breaks (off screen), and the guy films it while his sister and mother try to explain what happened. There’s a decent/creepy moment when the mother appears standing before the guy’s bed after slashing her wrists, but that’s about it. Usually it’s just stuff like the (literally) TEN MINUTE scene of the guy walking around shooting close-ups of the footprints that the ghost made (out of their father’s ashes - which is sort of badass).
Extras on the disc? Fuck, this thing doesn’t even have a goddamn scene selection. Pressing the menu button during the film will simply pause it for a second, and when the film ends it just goes into an endless loop of blank screens that run for four seconds before starting over (and once you’re in this loop, there appears to be no way to get back to the movie without shutting down your player entirely and starting it up again). Looking at all of the evidence, I would have to guess that Paramount’s unusually quick release of Paranormal Activity on DVD and the film’s shocking box office success caught them off guard, so they scraped this thing together over the course of a week or two so that they could have it in stores on the same day. And thus, things like a DVD menu, credits, an IMDb page, and a decent movie were simply not in the cards.
What say you?
*Same girl, with whom my previous longest conversation was “Find everything you were looking for?”, was taken aback by my haircut. She was the third person of the day who I never actually talk to that was surprised by this. Is this normal for people? I never notice things like that.