If I know that 80% of you HATE scary movies, why do I persist? In the last four weeks, I've posted on three different films designed to keep you awake at night. I don't have a good answer for you, except that we here at the Nawrot household seem to be in the middle of a horror binge.
We have always enjoyed the Paranormal Activity movies. Actually let me rephrase that. My daughter and I enjoy them, but my husband finds them dull. Emma and I just recently watched the third installment on Pay Per View, so I thought I would do a little PA Roundup.
For those of you who don't know, this is the premise. Home videos and security camera videos capturing various members of the same family being terrorized by a demonic spirit. We're not talking about just slamming doors and such, but this invisible presence drags people, invades and steals souls. People die.
Each PA installment goes back in time, exploring the genesis of the demonic spirit, why it is here, and to whom it is attached. All three movies however revolve around sisters Katie and Kristi and their troubled background.
All the movies start out slow, the various home footage sometimes running for days without any strange occurrences. That, by itself, builds incredible tension. When is something going to happen? When things DO happen, sometimes it is subtle. It is like reading an "I Spy" book, your eyes watching for the tiniest movement or the smallest thing out of place. (Alas, the beauty of NOT seeing this in the theater is that you can rewind and scrutinize.) With each movie, however, I will warn you that the demonic interference is more and more alarming. Unlike most films with sequels, these keep getting better.
Certainly the folks that birthed this lucrative franchise didn't invent the genre. That honor goes to the Blair Witch kids. Still, it only cost $15,000 to make the first movie, and it grossed $9.1 million. Yes you read that right. An unknown cast, no big special effects, and a handheld camera filming everything inside some dude's house with dirty carpets. After that little hat trick, the budget did go up to $3 million for the second film, but made $178 million worldwide, and the third movie is well on its way to something similar. Not a bad investment, and I don't blame these people one bit if they just keep making more until the audience decides they've had enough. (FYI, they have announced that there WILL be a fourth.)
As a student of the horror film, I believe that less is more in this situation. I find these movies scary and intense. My stomach hurts by the end, my heart palpitates, but I have a big old grin on my face and I keep coming back for more. It is my corny, guilty pleasure.