5 - 1
Oh brother. Another found footage film purporting to be ‘the truth’ behind demonic possession. This time around, a young woman whose mother is held captive in a Vatican insane asylum grabs a cameraman and decides to play homemade detective. What she discovers is a secret cabal against exorcism, and two practicing priests who will show her the truth. Then they decide to “rescue” mom. What we wind up with is silly shaky-cam chaos followed by one or two scenes of scary movie mandates. Believe it or not, this was worse than The Last Exorcism, if that’s possible.
If it wasn’t so pathetic, it would be laughable. Former wunderkind M. Night Shyamalan finally spent the last bit of his Sixth Sense/Next Spielberg credentials making a movie in which plants went on a rampage against mankind. No, not in a Day of the Triffids kind of carnage. No, our friendly neighborhood vegetation decided to release a neurotoxin which caused humans to kill themselves. Huh? Anyway, with questionable scripting and even more specious acting, this was a truly terrible attempt at terror. Leave it to the freefalling filmmaker to make things even more unintentionally hilarious by touting this as the scariest movie ever. Huh?
As irritatingly incomprehensible as the first film was (too much cursing combined with nausea-inducing POV camerawork) this scripted follow up was much, much worse. Though famed documentary director Joe Berlinger (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) would argue that excessive studio interference would ruin his original vision, it is hard to imagine how any initial ideas could make this movie work. It seems purposely lost inside it own insular devices. On the plus side, this completely crappy follow-up more of less killed the Witch franchise for good. Thank heaven for small miracles.
Overhyped to the point of hysteria and lacking anything remotely redeeming for the seasoned fright fan, Paranormal Activity is all smoke and one too many mirrors. It’s an accurate reflection of an audience incapable of separating truth from trickery, a waste of time in both concept and execution. Kudos to writer/director Oren Peli and the various dread websites that have successfully ballooned this minor movie all out of proportion. They have made an event out of a non-entity, a direct to DVD title that would have showed some promise had it inexplicable and unexpectedly arrived in someone’s mailbox one day.
Buried somewhere inside this absolutely pointless sequel to horror’s preeminent fright fest is a decent idea. Following up Regan’s irregular path into adolescence while the church investigates Father Merrin’s death is a parallel scenario that has a wealth of worthwhile possibilities. Sadly, director John Boorman decided to concentrate on the more psychobabble claptrap concepts inherent in the screenplay. Throw in some random locusts, a lot of Studio 54 style strobe lights and you’ve got cinema’s most stupefyingly bad scary movie.