JULY 8, 2012
Stop. Just stop. At this point there is absolutely no reason for a found footage movie involving a haunting of any sort. Every location, every plot, every possible scare has been done, and done again. It’s bad enough we’ll probably have to endure another 4-5 Paranormal Activity movies (and apparently Grave Encounters 2 is on the way), so please don’t be adding things like Paranormal Incident to the mix. It’s been covered. Move on.
I mean, I guess I can give them credit for being up front with their inspiration, as they merely kept the first word and consulted a thesaurus for the second (despite what my first paragraph pleaded, I’m sure “Paranormal Occurrence” is in some stage of development). But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a shamefully recycled story, populated with hateful, obnoxious characters without any way to tell them apart beyond their physical appearance. There’s the blond girl, the black guy, the Spanish girl, the white guy, and the other blond girl. But her hair is straight whereas the other one’s is curly – so much depth!
Oh and John, the guy who is the only one who survived the night at the asylum and is being questioned by an agent of some sort about what happened. It’s the closest thing to an original idea in the movie, as he sat outside all night and thus doesn’t know what happened, so the agent is showing him the tapes (which is how we’re seeing the footage). Why she needs to show him the ones that just show the characters fucking around or arguing about infidelity or whatever is beyond me, but that’s not nearly as problematic as the fact that these scenes are inexplicably scored. So they found the tapes and hired someone to compose them for John’s benefit?
That’s not the only proof that the filmmakers didn’t know how to properly commit to the found footage idea (shocking, I know). I particularly liked when a girl gets dragged down the hall (sure, rip off Rec while you’re at it!) and somehow manages to film both her POV (facing the position she was being dragged from) and her screaming face with one camera! Either the ghost (or “Devil” – not sure if it’s just coincidence but I had flashbacks to Episode 50 more than once) was tracking along with her, or they just fucked up. I also had to laugh at the scene where the two guys begin beating each other up, because it goes out of its way to demonstrate the biggest issue people have with these movies: the “why are they still filming” thing. When the fight begins, we see it through the lens of a third character who is filming with her handheld. Now, normally, you can complain about this, but ideally you’d be caught up in the excitement of the moment and thus not think about it too much.
But here’s the thing – the characters have set up motion sensor cameras everywhere, and we see things through that POV all the time as well (that’s the other thing that they botch – if she’s just showing him the tapes why are different camera angles edited together on one tape?). And this is one such time, so they ridiculously cut to a high angle showing both the two guys fighting AND the girl just awkwardly standing there filming it for no reason! It’s breathtaking in its total lack of intelligence, even by the low standards of one of these movies.
Oh, and the whole thing is about how they can’t escape (John has locked them in) when there are air conditioners on the first floor windows that can easily be removed. Guess we can just ignore that one.
The filmmakers couldn’t be bothered to look up basic info about ghost hunting and paranormal investigation, either, with characters asking others to “do an EVP” (you can’t DO one, you have to record and hope you CAPTURE one. It’s like saying “do a ghost”, essentially). I’m still laughing at the bit where one of the blond girls held up a standard voice recorder (the exact same one I use for interviews, in fact) and asks the ghost to tell her what happened there, and to “speak right into this recorder”, as if he’s going to waltz on out and use his radio voice. I mean, if we’re supposed to think that these folks are all idiots, fine, but if so that didn’t come across very well, especially since they’re all equally moronic. Comedy needs a straight man to work.
And that doesn’t even work, because the agent even makes a point to ask why they have all that equipment, so it seems that at least SOME of them would take this seriously and know that a ghost won’t just tell his side of a story into your Sony voice recorder. In order for horror to work, you have to make the audience believe that the world is real (ESPECIALLY in this sub-genre), and that’s Paranormal Incident’s biggest failure – every single thing about it feels phony. Not only did I not believe the footage was real, but I actively found it hard to believe that the characters watching it were able to accept it as anything but footage from a terrible horror movie. And their scenes feel phony as well, but at least there’s a reason for that. Unfortunately I can’t explain it; not because of fear of spoilers, but because I have no idea what the hell they were going for with the “reveal” at the end. My best guess is that they want to make a sequel to this thing, but if that actually comes to pass at least I can take comfort in the fact that HMAD will be done by the time it sees release and thus I won’t have the slightest bit of interest in seeing it.
What say you?