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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

trailer break: ‘Paranormal Activity’

Take a break from work: watch a trailer…


Someone asked me recently why I hadn’t seen or reviewed Paranormal Activity, and the answer was easy: the film was not scheduled to open in New York, and there had been no press screenings of it. It’s just started playing here now, and I’ll have to make room to check it out, because of the hype if nothing else.

The hype? It’s this. First-time writer-director Oren Peli made a movie on a budget of $11,000 — not eleven million, eleven thousand — with no stars, and it’s so freakin’ scary that it makes The Blair Witch Project look like Bambi, and it will curdle milk and make your popcorn rot right in the bucket and cool shit like that.

And then there’s this (seen in an ad on the IMDB this morning):

That’s right: audiences themselves are voting on whether or not this movie should come to their towns. Of course, they don’t really have much to go on apart from this trailer and the near-universal praise of the few critics who have seen it. (If you want to vote, you can do so at the film’s official site.)

I guess it’s working. The distributors can’t have spent much more on marketing than it cost to make the movie, and as it’s already edging up on takings of a million bucks from only 33 theaters. Whether the movie’s any good or not, the marketing of it is genius.

Paranormal Activity is now playing in limited release in the U.S.; no U.K. release date has been announced.



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movie buzz | trailers
  • JoshDM

    Someone.

  • Well, author Stephen King plugged the flick in a recent magazine essay but then again he’s plugged a lot of stuff over the years–including the last Dawn of the Dead remake–so I’ve learned to take his opinions with a grain of salt.

  • JoshDM

    Also there are 90% of King’s own adaptations.

    Some are good, but many are atrocious.

  • bracyman

    Makes me wonder what other genres can be successful with such a limited budget. Besides this and the Blair Witch Project, there was also Red Eye (and I’m sure others that I don’t know about)(Hitchcock had a lot of movies that took place in 2 or 3 set pieces, right?). They all fall under the horror/thriller branch, and take place with a small cast and a small set.

    Difficult so see, say, a martial arts action flick taking place inside a single room. But a political thriller? Any number of dramatic plays take place in a single location. SciFi maybe, and no I’m not talking about a holodeck. More like that episode of TNG where those aliens trapped Picard and two other species in a single room to test their responses under stress.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Bracyman, check out “El Mariachi”.

  • JoshDM

    aka the semi-prequel to “Desperado”.

  • bitchen frizzy

    No. Well, I don’t know what a “semi-prequel” is, but “El Mariachi” was not a prequel.

    “Desperado” was the (much) bigger-budget and greatly inferior sequel to “El Mariachi”.

  • bracyman

    Loved El Mariachi! But it hardly took place in single room or house, and had a cast of, well, dozens. A good example of what kind of excellent action movie can be made on a shoestring budget, but I was more interested in the limited cast and set.

    Though it introduces another question. What is the word for a movie that comes prior to another in a series? If there isn’t one, semi-prequel may have to do the job.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Oh, well then never mind. I didn’t get the connection between limited budget, and limited cast and set.

    –“What is the word for a movie that comes prior to another in a series?”

    “First”.

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    bracyman: Well, there’s always “Twelve Angry Men” for political thriller, and comedy takes well to the concept, especially when you consider all the sitcoms that focus primarily, if not exclusively, on a limited number of sets.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    Richard Linklater made a very good drama – Tape – on one set.

  • JoshDM

    I used “semi-prequel” because both movies seem to take place in almost the same universe but not quite, as they have similar elements; hence the “semi” and “prequel” because if in the same universe, Mariachi took place before Desperado in the time-line. In this case, “prequel” was not used in reference to the order of production.

    bracyman “got it”.

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