Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blair Witch: The Home Game (Paranormal Activity)

I was part of the throngs that caught Paranormal Activity last weekend. It's the latest horror flick to incorporate The Blair Witch Project's faux documentary style. All hype aside, if you like a good ghost story, you'll enjoy this one. That said, Paranormal Activity doesn't really break any new ground. In fact, what struck me the most was how closely it followed the template established in The Blair Witch Project.

The Set-up
Blair Witch: In October of 1994 three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary...A year later their footage was found.

Paranormal Activity: The relatives of Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat make this "found" video available.

It Begins as a Lark

Neither the kids in Blair Witch nor Paranormal Activity's Micah seem to take the subject of their "documentary" very serious at first. Of course, they learn the lesson that everything bad that happens starts out as "fun."

The Never Ending Argument

Blair Witch: After a while, I got sick of hearing the lost trio arguing about losing the "fucking map."

Paranormal Activity: Likewise, Katie and Micah continuously battle over when they should call the demonologist.

Critical Props

Just as with the "never ending argument," the characters in both films repeatedly express concern over "borrowed" objects. In Blair Witch, the would-be filmmakers stress at having to return a DAT recorder to its rightful owner by that Monday. In Paranormal Activity, Micah exploits a loophole in a promise made to Katie big enough to drive a demon through when he gets a friend to lend him a ouiji board.

Keep It Rolling

Blair Witch: At the end, why do the character's keep taping while running for their lives in witch's house? The answer, of course, is because we'd never see what happens.

Paranormal Activity: Katie, who is against the idea of documenting their haunting from the start, nonetheless tapes Micah's actions in the hallway even while screaming at the top of her lungs.

The Dogs That Don't Bark (spoiler)

We don't get to see the Blair Witch nor whatever it is thats haunting Katie and Micah. I've never quite accepted the argument that it's "scarier" that way. It's just cheaper to produce.

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