JANUARY 13, 2013
If there isn't already a rule that "with the" can only appear once in a title, there should be. That the last part (and owner of the 2nd "with the") of 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's title refers to a movie that isn't even horror makes it all the more annoying, but to the film's credit, it IS one of the films being spoofed here (30 Days of Night, however, is ignored). I wonder how it would have been listed on a marquee if it ever played theatrically? Would "30 Nights Of Paranormal Activity" be enough to let an unaware audience understand that it's a comedy? The mind boggles.
Anyway, the movie is a smidgeon or two better than A Haunted House, since I laughed 7-8 times instead of only four, and it seems that writer/director Craig Moss has a better understanding of his source material and thus how to milk it for laughs. No unmotivated/illogical jump cuts, no endless gags based on nothing, etc. And he even builds a couple of jokes around PA2's stupid goddamn pool filter, so I offer a slight bow of respect on that one.
That said, it's interesting how many gags are in both movies. Both have the ghost smoke, with CGI effects showing the lungs filling up with smoke and then exhaling, and in each film the male lead is obsessed with filming himself having sex. Ghost hunter shows are mocked in both films, and like AHH, this place in August of 2012, curiously enough, though this one gets the edge for tossing in any random number for "Night ___", so it will be "Night 23" one night and then "Night 5" the next - it's actually one of the more subtle gags, now that I think about it. Oh, and this one has fart jokes, too. I do not suspect any shenanigans; both films were in production around the same time and both of their creators have a history of spoof films - it's more just telling. Hack minds think alike, or something.
If only Moss knew enough to avoid too many pop culture jokes. One of Haunted House's very (VERY) few saving graces was that it'll be just as unfunny in 20 years as it is now, as there were very few "timely" lines and gags, but Moss opts to go the other route, throwing in jokes about The Artist (including Uggie the dog), Storage Wars, Bane, Abraham Lincoln's status as a vampire hunter, and even an extended parody sequence of Project X, a movie I actually had to pause and think to remember the name. There's nothing wrong with tossing in stuff that has nothing to do with Paranormal or even horror, but I think it's a good idea to make sure those targets have really stuck with the public consciousness for a few years, especially for an indie film where distribution might come along later than expected. Indeed, one of the laughs I DID get out of it was a dumb sight gag with Mario and Luigi - those cats have earned their place in history. Project X hopefully will not.
But scrape that stuff aside, and you're left with a pretty straightforward movie that spoofs the bigger moments from the first 3 PA films (the 4th, with Skype and Kinect, probably wasn't out yet, and is (unintentionally) funnier than any modern spoof film anyway). The pool filter from 2, the oscillating fan-cam from 3, the endless stationary nighttime shots from all of them... they're recreated with the usual hit-or-miss success rate. The Dragon Tattoo stuff is inserted courtesy of the couple's daughter, who has Lisbeth's look and attitude and addiction to Apple products (this provides the engine for the movie's most mean-spirited gag, involving Steve Jobs), though there's little more to it than that, and she disappears for most of the final half hour to boot. Though there's a scene that mimics the bit where Lisbeth brings home a girl from the club, except here it's a stand-in for Kate Beckinsale's character from Underworld (the film turns unnaturally blue tinted for this bit as well, heh), doubling the spoof value. As for Devil Inside, like Haunted House it just mocks the stuff anyone could get from the trailer (the "Connect the cuts" scene and the 911 call) - can't believe neither of these wanted to take a shot at the film's much hated ending.
The acting is far less grating than Wayans' comedian-pals fest, since Moss cast actual actors for the most part. Lead actress Kathryn Fiore is quite charming (confirming my suspicion that her "off" performance in Necessary Evil was the result of poor direction and not her acting ability), and like her spoof-peers Anna Faris and Jenn Proske (from Vampires Suck) is admirably game for the physical comedy, and not afraid to hide their attractiveness with terrible makeup or whatever a gag might call for. The llama was good, too.
The disc has one bonus feature, a brief making of piece in which French Stewart (who plays Fiore's dad in a pair of scenes) addresses the elephant in the room and explains that they're "not making Citizen Kane here", erasing the last bit of doubt that I had. Not much else to learn here, though I'm sure a few hacks will delight to discover that director Moss is seemingly cross-eyed, allowing them to make an easy joke that's just as bad as the worst stuff in the film. Shockingly, no gag reel or extended scenes are included. Isn't that mandatory for this sort of junk?
Had I not just seen the weaker version of this movie, I'd probably be rougher on it, but I know how bad this can be and thankfully it doesn't sink that low. It's not GOOD, but I found it at least tolerable and slightly more professional, which is funny since it's the lower budgeted film and cast primarily with unknowns (and, of course, the one going direct to video instead of making 20 million on opening weekend). Now let's see how Scary Movie 5 (which is almost assuredly drawing from the same movies) compares!
What say you?