Thursday, November 05, 2009


BLAIR WITCH, CLOVERFIELD, QUARANTINE....We've seen this shizzle before. Low budget horror, filmed on DV, acted by unknowns, trying to get thrills by feeling "real". BLAIR WITCH was truly spooky - I still remember the scene with the guy standing in the corner of the house, facing the wall, like a kid being punished - but gave me motion sickness. CLOVERFIELD was like Godzilla and hi-fi, but gave me motion sickness. I guess the best thing that can be said about PARANORMAL ACTIVITY is that its mockumentary concept at least features fixed cameras. Katie and Micah are a young couple living in contemporary America. It's the America of STARSUCKERS and WE LIVE IN PUBLIC - a nation of people who believe that if it's not on TV it isn't real. So when Katie tells Micah she's being stalked by a poltergeist, his schmucky reaction is to video-tape everything. So follows footage of a normal couple bickering, interspersed by in-camera special effect horror. Spooky demon footprints in talcum powder etc. I'd love to know how they did it all in frame, but I really wasn't scared by it. And the reason I wasn't scared is because the mockumentary format is a distancing device. We know it's a trick and so we aren't involved. This applies to rom-coms as much as to horror, by the way, as I argue in my review of PAPER HEART. So, don't believe the hype. This film is entertaining enough as a post-modern comment on media-obsessed society, but it doesn't work as horror. And for all its lo-rent indie cred, I notice that the movie is "presented by Steven Spielberg", and that the director hasn't turned down the chance to make a studio-backed sequel to cash-in on this flick's commercial success.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY was released in October in the US and Canada. It opened earlier in November in Greece, Russia, Singapore, Finland, Sweden, and Germany. It opens this weekend in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. It opens next weekend in France, Australia and Denmark. It opens in January in New Zealand and Norway and in Italy in February.

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