I intended to close out this 30 Days of Horror marathon with a movie that I was fairly certain would be a future Vault Pick. Didn't quite work out that way. I was getting pressed for time and just had to find a flick that would qualify. Once I saw a friend on The Book talking about watching this on Netflix Watch Instantly I decided this would be the one. I know I could have done better, but I watched it anyway.
This blatant ripoff of "Paranormal Activity" shows the "actual" video footage of the supernatural events that led to the murder of Samantha Finley (Erin Marie Hogan). The footage was supposedly found in the attic of the Finley home months after the tragedy that led to the arrest and suicide of her brother, Thomas (Shane Van Dyke) and the suicide of her mother (Fia Perera).
Anyone with any common sense could see from the name alone that they were trying to coast on the success of "Paranormal Activity" for this one. Just in case you had any doubts, the cover art further helped you with that. It was released before the sequel so they were obviously trying to cash in on the brand by having folks think that perhaps this one was the sequel. I already knew that, but figured since I liked the original so much I would see what a cheap knock-off would look like.
Their problem with this one started off immediately due to the terrible acting. It's hard to say if the brother was guilty of it since we rarely see him as he was doing most of the camera work. The worst offender was the mother. There were more than a few instances where it looked like she was just reciting lines from memory. The daughter wasn't much better with many of her terrorized looked coming across as very contrived. Especially while they were speaking with the psychic expert, Dr. Lauren (Norman Saleet). Most of the cast just was not believable at all.
The other thing that caused their bad acting to stand out was their reactions to certain events. A couple of times, they reacted about a split second too soon. It was as if they were anticipating the scare and/or because they knew it was coming so they jumped the gun with their response. The director should have caught this and fixed it with a different take. More than that though, if more of the movie was improvised such as with both the "Paranormal Activity" films then they wouldn't have had this problem.
Then of course there was the obvious flaw in logic of the whole ordeal. First and foremost, WHY ARE THEY STAYING IN THE HOUSE?! The brother finally comes up with the idea three weeks into the strange happenings that maybe the mother and daughter should leave and stay in a hotel. Unfortunately, the presence follows them there too (although we never see those occurrences). Well maybe if you would have came up with that idea sooner, it wouldn't have happened.
But the biggest problem I had is how this whole family is experiencing these strange goings-on for weeks, have documented proof of it and never bother to show anyone. Sure, they keep trying to reach this Dr. Lauren who is on vacation or something but that's it. Why wouldn't they reach out to someone else? Then maybe the son wouldn't have been accused of murdering his sister. Which you also would think wouldn't hold up because all he had to do is show the police the video of what he saw.
I don't think they were trying to bite the entire premise of "Paranormal Activity". Some of this also reminded me of a horror movie released in 1981 called "The Entity". They stole a little from that one too. Then they made sure to appeal to the hetero male demographic by finding an actress who didn't mind being scantily clad (and sometimes nude) throughout the movie. I guess they figured that was the one missing ingredient to put them over the top. Too bad it was deficient in so many other areas that it didn't even matter.
I hope this hasn't started a trend. That maybe studios will think the "hidden footage" technique is a lazy way to make a horror film that they think we will buy into. The great films will always have their imitators but it's up to us as the viewing audience to make sure they don't detract from the originals. That won't be any problem at all with "Paranormal Entity". It may have made my hair raise on a few occasion, but that's only because I was having "Paranormal Activity" flashbacks.
My rating: D -