The Paranormal Blair Witch Activity ProjectTuesday, October 27th, 2009
As I pointed out in the beginning of the month with my review of The Blair Witch Project, environment is everything when watching a film. Being one of the better reviewed films of the year, as well as being touted as “the scariest movie ever”, I decided, against my better judgement, to give Paranormal Activity a watch. It accomplishes something that The Blair Witch just couldn’t. I have a feeling that this one will remain a bit frightening out of the theater as well as in it.
Don’t get me wrong…I am, and will always be, a fan of The Blair Witch. The canny marketing campaign mixed with that excellent hour long documentary on Sci-Fi to promote the film, and critic reaction meant I had to see this movie. In the meantime from then and now, I’ve been burned by such things. A lot. Which is why I tend to either ignore such things entirely, or give them a view after the hype has died down. Clearly you can see the parallels both in story and storytelling involved here in Paranormal Activiy and The Blair Witch Project. But, you’ve got to admit, this movie has generated a huge buzz seemingly on the merits of the film itself. Besides, who doesn’t like an underdog story?
First, let’s take a look at the story. Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie(Katie Featherstone…what…the characters are named after the actors who play them? Am I watching The Office and no one told me? Katie does bear a striking resemblance to Jenna Fisher, by the way.) are having some problems with their house. Apparently some minor problems, but of a type that Micah, being a red-blooded American yuppie asshole just HAS to document on film. Katie let’s us know early on that this kind of thing has happened to her most of her life, and at this point is simply looking for a way to make it stop. That’s the setup right there. That’s really all you need to know. Everything else, you’ve probably seen in the trailers.
Now, on to the bad, or what the trailers are not showing you. I don’t mind a slow buildup in a movie, I really don’t. It’s just that what’s slow about this movie is sooooo…ooooo…ooooo tedious to watch that you might find yourself eyeing an exit, like I did. Does it help ramp up tension in the nonboring parts? Sure! But…soooo…ooooo….ooooo tedious. So, be prepared for it. Me, I brought a Rubik’s Cube with me…and DID manage to solve it before I left! Also, I had a very hard time identifying with the couple in this movie. Micah is seemingly put in our face as the catalyst, if not the culprit for the hauntings himself. In a movie that needs no red herrings, why are we presented with one? Also, the house these people live in itself pissed me off. Clearly the character of Micah is a successful person and, God help me, for that reason coupled with his shitty attitude and borderline abuse of his girlfriend, I wanted to see this dickhead take a dirtnap. Also, I found the haunting scenes to be a bit cliched…There’s an uncomfortable psychic, a Ouija board incident…whatever this thing is, it does everything but jump out and say BOO!
Katie, I thought was almost…ALMOST a realistic portrayal of what you might feel or think if this were happening to you. The only time I truly believed that she wasn’t some actress was when she lost her shit at Micah’s shenanigans. She lets loose with a torrent of awesome cursing! Also, she, and she alone is the only part of the movie I found convincing enough (in a couple of abbreviated parts) to actually be creepy.
And, before I go, there’s the controversy of the many alternate endings. So far, I can dig up information on three different endings. The original one, which would seem to fit…and a creepier one that fits and is also scary as hell (just from the description) and the theatrical ending, apparently funded by Steven Spielberg. Yeah, that Spielberg, who was apparently so frightened by the film that he brought it to work in a plastic bag and asked someone to get rid of the DVD for him. I call bullshit, but, hey…I call bullshit on a lot of things.
Sure, go see it, but don’t go in with your expectations so damn high. You’ve seen this gimmick before, and you’ve probably seen it better executed (or at least more originally) than you will here. Me, I enjoyed it, though mostly for other people’s reactions.
I’m sick like that.