Reel to Real: Abnormal hopes for Paranormal series
I doubt I’m going to get any awards for saying that “Paranormal Activity 4” doesn’t look great, except for the award for Most Obvious Statement of the Year.
But I’m going to say it anyway.
Sure, I like a lot of movies that have been critically panned.
I might be one of five human beings on the planet that liked “The Village,” and I’m willing to give just about anything a chance.
But by the fourth movie in a series, either you have to go a completely different direction or you’re screwed.
And according to the critics, this one is screwed.
The minimalism of the first Paranormal Activity movie was what made it so creepy.
There were hardly any characters and little action—it was all a slow buildup to the final few minutes.
What made it scary was that it seemed possible, because it looked like a bunch of footage some average Joe shot and the effects were small enough that they seemed real.
But after four movies, it stops seeming so real because they had to tack on a whole backstory about witches and cults.
The first one was so much scarier because you didn’t know what was going on.
There was a demon, and it was following our girl Katie around and making her life a living hell, but when you didn’t know why it was happening it was terrifying because then it could happen to anyone.
Just listen to this entry from the Paranormal Activity 3 Wikipedia page: “The symbol belonged to a witch’s covent that brainwashed girls of child-bearing age into having sons, and then force them to forget.”
I’m not going to argue with the first horror movie to break 26 million on its opening day, because the marketing for these movies is effective and we have all been tricked into seeing the same movie four times, but let’s just all agree that we have moved far, far away from the original minimalist concept that we started with.
The ads make a point of showing how scared everyone in the audience is instead of what’s scaring them, inviting you to come and see for yourself what’s so horrifying.
Thing is, stick a bunch of people who are already anticipating getting scared out of their minds in a theater, have something leap out at them, and everyone is going to jump.
Some people will react very amusingly by shrieking and grabbing their friends or throwing their drinks and popcorn in the air.
I could pop out of a closet in a crowded room and scare the crap out of everyone there, but I don’t deserve four movies devoted to it.
The fifth movie is already in the works, and no doubt there will be further story development involving vampires, zombies, the Loch Ness Monster and the Illuminati.