About six or seven years back, James Wan and his writing collaborator, Leigh Whannell, cooked up the “Saw” franchise and, I suppose, bear some responsibility for the whole trend of horror films that were more about trauma and less about fun — or at least my idea of fun. I can’t talk too much because my infamous squeamishness has prevented me from actually seeing “Saw,” but Wan and Whannell appear to be headed back toward the kinder, gentler and, I understand, even a bit funnier spook flicks that were once the standard.
Kevin Jagernauth may be a skeptic, but as of now I’m looking forward to “Insidious,” which really does look like my kind of horror flick. This trailer indulges in some trendy trickery to pump up the scare-factor, but I can see it’s beating B-movie heart. Oren Peli is one of the producers, hence the “Paranormal Activity” connection.
With a title like “Atrocious,” you’ve got to admire the filmmakers’ confidence in regards to us nasty critic types. In any case, this muy creepy trailer from Mexican first-timer Fernando Barreda Luna promises a more violent experience than “The Blair Witch Project,” or “Paranormal Activity.” This time, those meddling kids get in way too deep with a serial killer, or something. Via Cinematical, which has a NSFW warning for language (the word “shit” is used once, not too shocking these days). I guess it’s apposite if your boss doesn’t like you wasting your time watching scary trailers at work, though.
My Ouija board and jolly Carl DiOrio both agree that, yeah, Paramount’s “Paranormal Activity 2″ has a very decent chance at unseating last weekend’s record setting debut of it’s “Jackass 3D.” While it may seem like an impossible-to-replicate one-off, apparently some care has been taken to avoid the kind of pitfalls that befell such unfortunate sequels as the non-mock-doc “Blair Witch 2.”
Even more shockingly, 17 of the 21 Rotten Tomatoes critics that have so far reviewed this seemingly destined to (creatively) fail sequel are saying quite the opposite, praising the film for a reportedly clever set-up that ups the ante and even somehow manages the return of Katie Featherston from the original “Paranormal Activity.” Given they’re competing with themselves on two unconventional, low budget projects, it seems like a sure bet Paramount will have a very good weekend and there will be smiling faces on Melrose Monday morning. That’s especially so considering the $1 million reported budget for the horror sequel — which is huge compared to the $15,000 originally spent on Oren Peli’s smash, but tiny in a world where $20 million films are considered to be low-budget. The profits will come very quickly for this one.
“Jackass 3D” should suffer a significant drop as it’s the kind of movie that tends to blow it’s b.o. wad (boy, that sounds gross) on the first weekend. Still, given it’s $50 million opening weekend, that means that “Paranormal Activity 2″ will have to get something well over $20 million to top it, assuming the drop isn’t truly catastrophic. A photo-finish — or in this case a creepy security camera finish — is far from impossible.
Also dealing with otherworldly matters is Clint Eastwood‘s “Hereafter” from, as always, Warner Brothers. With Matt Damon leading an ensemble cast in another multi-story drama, the film is expanding from a very limited run last weekend to a wide 2000+ theater release. In a bit of critical topsy-turvy, the movie is not getting anyway near the critical goodwill of this week’s quickie horror sequel. It’s dividing reviewers, with “top critics” from major publications being significantly more friendly to the film. A good example would be Roger Ebert, whose written quite skeptically on his blog about an afterlife, a topic that’s he’s obviously been forced to deal with in the most personal way by real-life events. His conclusion about Eastwood’s movie, written by Peter Morgan of “The Queen” and the hugely underrated, “The Damned United,” are almost opposite to our own Jason Zingale and he’s given the film an outright rave review.
Things movie-wise are otherwise slow, with most of the activity this week in limited releases being in expanding films that have already been out for awhile. Among the movies adding scores of theaters nationwide are the very hot documentaries and meh-ish reviewed drama with a whiff of made-for-basic-cable to it, “Conviction.”
There’ll be days when you forget there are genres other than horror over these next 31 days. Naturally, we kick things off with inevitable “Paranormal Activity 2″ trailer, attempting to repeat the unrepeatable.
I really don’t know how having a family being terrorized by the scary whatsit from “Paranormal Activity” will be enough to not make this feel like the quickie retread it undeniably is, even if it’s brilliant, but anything is possible. Anyhow, original writer and director Oren Pelli’s house may still be the star of the movie, but he’s only on board as a producer this time. Smart guy, I’d say. Let someone else do the impossible.
Uhm, I really don’t think that’s going to do it, guys. Even as a teaser, this doesn’t even hint at raising the stakes or going into some new area that was unexplored in the first non-film film. Back to the drawing board, maybe?
I was scared by and impressed with “Paranormal Activity,” but let’s agree that, like “The Blair Witch Project,” it was more of an entertaining stunt than an actual film in the traditional sense, and therefore extremely difficult to repeat or top. On the other hand, the budget for this kind of thing is so low that I suppose a nice profit is guaranteed, so go for it, Paramount.
UPDATE: Nikki Finke reports that this trailer was pulled from Cinemark theaters because of complaints in Texas that it was too scary. And I thought I was a scaredy cat. Jiminy.