Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Time For Boo Is Now

JA from MNPP here, taking advantage of the fact that it's that extra-spooky October time of year to bring a little horror flavor to The Film Experience. Specifically, to aim y'all toward the little captured-footage gem making the rounds called Paranormal Activity, if you haven't seen it yet.

If you haven't been following the film's progression like I have - and having just scanned through my archives I can tell you the film first popped onto my radar way back in January of 2008 - let me give you a brief run-down: the film blew everybody that saw it away at some festivals around that time, and was quickly snatched up by Paramount, and then nothing. Silence. There were rumors it was going to be re-filmed with a bigger budget (it cost around $11,000 to make), but nothing came of those. Supposedly Paramount screened the film, realized they might maybe have something special when every audience they showed it to freaked the hell out over it, and decided to build buzz with some free screenings around the country and slowly build out from there. They're using a system called "Demand It!" where you go to the website, vote for the film to come to your town, and when enough people have voted the film starts playing in that town. It's already gotten to a bunch of cities this way and now they're saying that once they get to one million people demanding the film (they passed the 400,000 mark yesterday) they will open the film across the entire country. Voila, movie magic!

I'm skeptical about the spontaneity of this system to be honest and have a little voice in my head (yes, one of many) telling me this has been the plan all along, to slowly build buzz and to eventually open up the film just in time for Halloween everywhere, but whatever, it's worked. The film's selling out nearly every screening, and people seem to be really enjoying it. I saw it a few weeks back - my first review is here, with an important follow-up here - and while I was maybe a little poisoned by the levels of hype I had going into it I still found the film a whole lot of fun. It's a very old-fashioned kind of scary movie with that found-footage modern spin thrown on top - if Eleanor Lance had had a camcorder to document Hill House ("whatever walked there, walked alone") it'd probably have looked a lot like Paranormal Activity. Slamming doors, little gusts of wind, and a soundtrack of shakes rattles and moans set to curdle your blood... it all adds up to the sort of grab-your-date's-arm, toss-the-popcorn-into-the-air scary movie that's perfect for the season.

Which is why I'm telling - nay, demanding! - y'all go see this film this month. When it gets to your neck of the woods, of course. The month of All Hallows needs this movie. Too long has October been dominated by that circle-cheeked trap-meister Jigsaw and his elaborate sadist's games in the Saw franchise and I know many, many horror fans that are plum sick to death of it. All the other horror movies skitter out of the Saw movies way every October of every year, leaving those abysmally bad movies all the treats, and it must be ended, this reign of terror. Here's this young buck upstart made for a measly eleven grand coming in for the champ's crown and I'm really really rooting that come November we've got a new horror king. Saw must be stopped!

Especially if you care about the old-fashioned spooky kind of scary movie. Paranormal Activity's by no means a great film but it does deliver what it intends to, and it manages that with nary a spring-loaded clockwork acid-bath in sight. Besides a couple of drops of blood and a scratch there's no gore to be seen, at all. I've defended some of the so-called "torture porn" films before - I maintain that Hostel's a better film than it gets credit for - but there has to be room for other kinds of horror films in October. Look at Michael Dougherty's terrific holiday-specific Trick 'r Treat, which should've opened in October of 2007 but just finally got dumped onto DVD this week - if everyone weren't afraid to put something against the Saw behemoth TrT would've made a wonderful October treat.

So end rant. I know horror's not everybody's bag here at TFE but this being October I felt the need to spread the begging out a little further from the comfort zone of MNPP. Have you seen Paranormal Activity already? Do you plan on it? Do!

1 comment:

NicksFlickPicks said...

I just reviewed this over in my neck of the woods, too. I definitely hope people see it, and quickly, before they know too much. These midnight screenings have served the movie tremendously well, and not just in a business and marketing sense. It's a perfect way to see the movie, but I'll be excited if a full release becomes possible.