Thursday, February 11, 2010

Paranormal Entity (2009)

Have you heard about this picture? It was all the rage back during Halloween 2009. We got ghosts and shit caught on tape. Also, it's a "found footage" type picture so we know that most of the people in this thing end up either missing, dead or possibly both. I believe this picture has already been assigned the "masterpiece" label. And, to think it only cost 11 thousand dollars. This thing, in rough cut form (could it get any rougher?), scared Steven Spielberg shitless. He thought the tape he took home to watch was actually haunted. Can you believe that shit? Anyway, he embraced it, recommended it to some producers, and the rest, as they say, is....oh, wait....this isn't that movie? Shit, I was pretty sure it was...Oh, that thing was Paranormal Activity? This is the one inspired by the 1982 Sydney J. Furie picture about the ghost that rapes Barabara Hershey? Yeah, I remember that thing. That was a pretty good movie what with invisible hands squeezing Hershey's breasts, etc. Good effects work.

Well, I have to confess that I watched Paranormal Activity a while back. Maybe even reviewed the sucker. I think I liked it. This thing is similar only the "entity" takes his crush on the female character a bit further in that he actually sexually assaults her. The lesson I learned here is that entities rape, activities don't rape. Also, Paranormal Entity was directed by The Asylum who is known for producing "mock-busters" (thanks wikipedia). A "mock-buster" is an homage (insta-ripoff?) to mega hollywood blockbusters. For instance, he did Snakes on a Train which is funny since I thought Snakes on a Plane tanked at the box office. Also, he did Transmorphers, The Terminators, Street Racer, Cloverville, that megashark versus giant squid movie, etc. The Asylum (I assume he was a wrestler or something) has a pretty solid track record. What's interesting about Paranormal Entity, however, is that he's paying "loving" "homage" to a movie that cost peanuts to begin with. Usually, he takes on shit that cost millions of dollars and so his works tend to suffer in comparison. Here, he's probably got a budget that exceeds that of the original. This shit's impossible to fuck up is the point I'm making.

By god, The Asylum has almost done it. I'm not gonna say Entity is better than Activity. I will say that it doesn't embarrass itself. Both pictures have amateur actors and I'd actually argue that the ones in Entity acquit themselves a little better. They're a little more likable. We got three main characters in Entity. A mother who likes her drink. A daughter who looks to be in her twenties and is always walking around in a bra and panties. And a son who also appears to be in his twenties and is constantly filming his sister in her bra and panties. Also, there's some sort of entity, but we never see it. Also, some kind of parapsychologist shows up at the end for about a minute. The premise goes as follows: Entity inhabits house, fucks with the sister, knocks shit over, tracks ash on the ceiling, etc. There's some hinting of assaults of a sexual nature against the sister (and later, a little more than "hinting"). A doctor tells them to document the shit. The son sets up cameras all over the house and also walks around with one. During the day scenes we got some bickering and then the night scenes (with everyone asleep except for the entity and the cameras) involve shit falling off walls, doors slamming, tvs turning themselves on, possible entity rape, etc.

I must be pretty fucking easy cause I didn't hate this thing. It was like watching a solid episode of "Ghost Hunters" only if one of the ghost hunters got assaulted. Sexually. The effects aren't quite as grandiose as they were in Paranormal Activity. We got no scene where a demon tracks three toed footprints in the bedroom and no Ouija boards catch on fire. All the cool shit happens off camera. There's even a mention of the girl getting dragged out of bed but that took place off camera and in a hotel (another difference between this picture and Activity is that they actually tried to leave). There is a scene where the son (I don't remember any of their names, sorry. I think there was a subtitle to the movie that gives the family name....the something something murder tapes....wait, just scrolled to the top. "The Finley Murder Tapes". There you go)....anyway, there's a scene where the son finds footprints on the ceiling. Holy shit, this entity walks on the fucking ceiling. Another difference between entities and activities is that entities walk on the fucking ceiling. He inspects the shit the entity tracks in though and discovers it's ash. Uh oh...he goes downstairs and finds the urn that contained his fathers ashes smashed to the ground. Oh yeah, the father died in an accident about a year before. The story goes the mother tried to communicate with the father and instead invited in an evil presence, an entity.

Anyway, that's one way of looking at it but I think the picture actually hints at something far more sinister. Like, this family seems pretty messed up. The mother's a drunk. The daughter sleeps in a barren room, with dark walls, and a solitary crucifix hanging over her bed. She's overly morose. I don't know, the picture of the dad by the urn was a little creepy is all I'm saying. I'm not calling paranormal social services to come take him away from his daughter, not yet anyway. Why do we automatically have to go blaming some kind of evil demon? Too much finger pointing in the direction of where we think evil demons are standing. Shouldn't ghost dad, at least, be a suspect?

So, I didn't hate this picture but it's not perfect either. Too many scenes are direct lifts from Paranormal Activity. Besides the raping, and the hinting at a history of child abuse, there's nothing original here. Barely a reason for it to exist. We got the scene where the bed sheets miraculously lift off a sleeping woman. We got a scene where a seemingly possessed woman gets up and walks around and even calls for someone (in this case, her brother). It's all done pretty well but still feels a little "been there, done that". There's a great (and scary) scene towards the end involving the mother which I won't spoil here. The ending feels too abrupt but somehow, maybe that's fitting. The psychic guy stops by, tells them everything's gonna be alright and then suddenly the footage jumps ahead to a (SPOILER!!!!!!) closeup of the psychic dead on the floor, the son passed out apparently, and the daughter screaming as she's being assaulted in the bedroom, a "what the fuck just happened" scene if there ever was one. So, I got to hand it to The Asylum for this one. He is getting better. I'd like to see him tackle even more small, intimate, projects in the future. How about The Asylum's A Serious Guy? Maybe The Asylum's A Single Guy? Or, how about The Asylum's Up In The Sky? I don't know, I'm not very good at coming up with movie ideas.


elmo said...

So... how were the christian overtones?

brian said...

um....pretty good?

elmo said...

Next watch Sunday School Musical.