October 21st, 2012

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Paranormal Activity 4

I think I'm getting in a lil deep with this whole #rothtober thing. Last night, I dreamt I was an extra in a Cannibal Holocaust-esque movie starring and directed by Eli Roth. There were some other details that I'll keep to myself, but I'll just say it's a good thing I'm giving my psyche a break from that project today. Well, a break from the project, not from the horror genre.

I've been following the Paranormal Activity franchise since the beginning. The promotion behind the first one was just so incredibly effective. Remember? It was such an underground, indie film that it was only playing in a few select markets. The trailer went viral, with the command to "demand it" to get it to play in more towns. Boston was in the second group to get the movie. What grabbed me about that trailer was that most of it was based on audience reaction. You saw just enough shots of the film to get an idea of what it was about, but it was seeing such a strong response that really had me intrigued.

And thankfully, that first film really did deliver. Such an incredibly effective horror film, with really low tech effects. I'm very much an advocate for low tech, and this is a prime example of why. The film took off, so a sequel was released the following year. Paranormal Activity 2 enhanced the story of the first. The scope was bigger, but the same kinda found footage hidden camera strategy, and it filled out a lot of the story details that were missing. Last year came Paranormal Activity 3, which tried to give you some of the backstory, though it kinda didn't really. It was just more of the same formula, just in the 80s. Now here we are with Paranormal Activity 4, which tells us what happened a few years down the line.

Still, we've got more of the same strategy. Weird things start happening. Concerned family member sets up hidden cameras to record things while they sleep. Weird things get weirder. The impetus this time around is that the weird little boy from across the street is gonna be staying with our leading family for a few days. The kid brings the weird. Our leading lady, being a tech savvy high schooler, sets up laptops all around the house recording everything. One nice addition was that they had a Kinect set up in the living room, which projects infrared lasers that can be seen by the laptop in nightvision. So same basic idea of how you can put down powder to see footprints of an invisible being, you could see the shape of one moving around.

The reason these movies have been sticking around is because the team is good at what they do. They know how to build suspense, as you stare into the corners of the screen waiting for some sudden inexplicable movement. There were audible screams in the auditorium a few times. However, this one is just not as memorable as its predecessors. The first movie was so groundbreaking, and this one is just more repetition. Effective, and better than a lot of what passes for horror nowadays, but not a very necessary addition to the franchise. It also gets frustrating in that by the time you get to the end, you end up getting even more questions asked than ever get answered. Yes, it was cool to see what happens a few years later, but I'm not convinced we really needed to know.

Paranormal Activity 4 - \m/ \m/ \m/
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The Paperboy

I just put on Rock of Ages on BluRay. Not sure how this write up is gonna happen at the same time. You may call it poor planning, but I make no apologies or excuses for rocking.

Alas, one part of my day today that didn't quite rock was The Paperboy. It'd been a while since I pulled a double that spanned two theaters, but I ran from Paranormal Activity 4 at the Common to The Paperboy at the Kendall. Geez, this movie was a hot mess.

The Paperboy is already becoming infamous as the film where Nicole Kidman pees on Zac Efron. If only that were the only problem with the movie. In short, it was boring and weird. And not the good kinda weird. Oh no. Just awkward, uncomfortable, strange. Matthew McConaughey is a reporter who comes home to investigate a murder. Nicole Kidman is hoping he'll help her free the convicted inmate, John Cusack, who she intends to marry. Zac Efron is the reporter's little brother and driver and he becomes crazy obsesed with Kidman's aging and mentally unstable sex kitten. Most of the focus is on Efron's character. He's just aimlessly wandering thru his life. However, that means that Efron plays him kinda lifeless. When you're carrying a film, lifeless is not good. There's not enough of his charm coming thru to make him interesting.

Kidman just made me uncomfortable. She was too in your face sexual, but it wasn't hot. It was kinda sad. Not that she wasn't gorgeous in the role, her character just had too many issues. I had no idea why she subjected herself to all that she did, and I felt kinda embarassed for her (both the actress and the character).

I never thought in a million years I would make a statement like the following, but the one who I loved watching was Macy Gray as the housekeeper Anita. Yes, that Macy Gray. When you have a cast that includes all of the aforementioned actors and your strongest one is Macy Gray, you have a problem. Her rapport with Efron was really fun, and for the most part, she was just the most lively and interesting character. She was the only one who I actually cared about, and she was only a supporting character. Thankfully, she also served as narrator, so that was a bit of a bright spot as well.

John Cusack was also kinda impressive, as the unhinged convict. But his character was so incredibly unlikeable (on purpose) and he was really sketching me out. I could not see what drew Kidman's character to him, and that just made things all the more frustrating.

Anyways the whole thing sorta just dragged on and on. If there'd been more attention paid to the murder story, I'd have been more interested. But alas that storyline was mostly just glossed over. There were some hints at a cool backstory for McConaughey's character, but that too wasn't fully developed. Even as the end built up some (mostly predictable) suspense, I just couldn't wait for the \m/ thing to be over.

And to think, today because my double spanned two theaters, I actually did pay for both movies. That'll teach me to be honest.

The Paperboy - \m/ \n