Late last year the horror world became abuzz with the release of “Paranormal Activity”. Shot completely in POV style, the movie captured the attention of a lot of movie watchers and scared a good many of them. Naturally, when a horror movie comes along that generates a ton of buzz and box office cash, The Asylum is going to pay close attention and try and spin off their own feature. Thus is the story behind their film Paranormal Entity. Absolutely nothing is changed here as far as what counts. You have a family dealing with a ghost and an edgy twenty something who decides he’s going to catch the whole thing on camera. Throw out his cute wife and replace her with a sister and a mother and you have the first and nearly only significant change from the original movie. Mix in a story about a dad who died in a car crash and a grieving wife who’s trying to talk to him and you have the second major reconstruction. Other than that? We’re dealing with the exact same formula.
Considering I wasn’t a big fan of the formula the first time around? The second pass in “Paranormal Entity” was a chore.
The Asylum has never been a group concerned too much with artistry. They want to slap a film in the can and push it out the door. They want money; mimicking a popular money making movie is how they make that money. This time around, they got lucky as there wasn’t much they had to contend with in the artistry department. Just like it’s predecessor, it's shot entirely on hand held cameras. The setup is nearly the same, the haunting is nearly the same. The unseen spector shows up at random times of the night and scares the three family members still living in the house. Things move around from unseen forces, the TV turns on and off and something knocks around in the attic. Again, much like the first film, this spirit is dedicated to messing with the life of the leading female, the sister. In between the bouts of shaking video camera shots accompanied by the heavy mouth breathing of the brother, we see sister getting messed with in various manners. We also see a lot of her in her bra and panties. I guess that’s the one thing The Asylum thought “Paranormal Activity” was lacking; T&A.
To be fair and forthcoming and all that good stuff; I didn’t like the original film very much. The movie had its moments but ‘jumped the shark’ at the halfway point when we see the Ouija board burst into flames. For “Paranormal Entity”, the scares are not very effective as we’ve seen them all before. “Activity” sucked in its viewers because it was scaring them in new ways. Those ways are no longer scary. They also suffer from a severe lack of editing as well. There are many times that we see the camera being set down and then continue rolling on nothing interesting. We can hear people knocking about in the background but it isn’t dialog needed for the scene in question and since it's not well executed, it's not scary. We see lots of long dark shots waiting for something to happen, like a chair to move, but it never comes. These long and tedious moments combined with scares where we already know what is going to happen and the movie just simply starts to feel uncomfortable.
You know when your aunt and uncle come back from vacation and want to show you their videos. You sit there a bit antsy as you are bored to tears, but you don’t want to say anything rude because they’re you’re aunt and uncle; you don’t want to hurt their feelings? That’s what watching “Paranormal Entity” feels like; uncomfortable vacation videos.
I will give the cast and crew credit for one improvement over the originals scare formula. In “Activity”, there is a tense moment when the characters spread baby powder in the door way of the room to find chicken shaped footprint in the morning. In “Entity”, they take this moment and expand into something much longer and a bit weightier. The family is under full on assault form the spirits that have marked them for torment. They run about the house trying to get away from their unseen assailant. Doors slam in the background, furniture moves about to try and trip them up and once they finally turn on the lights; they find foot prints traveling the length of the house upon the ceiling. For me, finding human shaped footprints upon the ceiling is far more unsettling than chicken feet in your bedroom. Upon further investigation in the morning, the brother follows the footprints to their source and finds they have originated from his fathers ashes. Sure, the fathers death is a throwaway plot crutch but in this one tiny moment, they make the idea a bit more chilling. It didn’t last long though, so I wouldn’t dwell on it.
In the end, I watched “Paranormal Entity” and was not surprised in the slightest by a film from The Asylum. You get what you expect, which is crap. I also lost a solid two hours of my life to this film and I’m still a bit bitter over this fact. It also leads me to wonder and speculation on how the studio plans to pull of “Paranormal Activity 2”; there’s a strong chance they may suffer from the same ‘been there, done that’ boredom that plagued “Paranormal Entity”.