Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Worst Movie of 2009

I was going to do a "Ten Worst of 2009" list (and I still may), but I already know what my my #1 Worst Movie of the Year is, so I thought I'd just get it out of the way.

Like many of you, I tried not to get caught up in the online hype for this picture. The trailers promised something so scary, you could literally crap your pants. The word-of-mouth was unlike anything I'd seen since the movie it was being compared to, The Blair Witch Project. And the "Demand It" campaign was a stroke of genius. But when all was said and done, Paranormal Activity turned out to be a completely unscary and downright boring movie.

Director Oren Peli's First-Person hand-held camera movie about a young couple (Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston) dealing with extraordinary events in their home was touted as the scariest movie since the aforementioned Blair Witch. Katie and Micah have been experiencing some unusual phenomena in their home. Micah buys a video camera to try and catch whatever is happening while they sleep (it is through that camera we see what's happening). Katie calls in a psychic, who advises her to consult a demonologist. We soon discover that Katie was "haunted" as a child (apparently by the same entity) which ended with her house burning down. Micah decides he will take matters into his own hands and get rid of it himself, taunting the entity and inviting it to communicate, things the psychic expressly warned them not to do. As Micah becomes more and more of a macho asshat, the creepy goings-on get more intense.

Paranormal Activity was a great idea, and while it isn't badly executed from a technical point of view, it's pacing is deadly. The first hour meanders about as Micah continuously tries to convince Katie to have sex on camera while ignoring her increasing discomfort. A door moves. Something screeches and thumps. Katie sleepwalks. Sort of creepy, but too little for too long. By the time the movie actually starts to look like it's going to get scary, it's over (with one of the single most ridiculous and superfluous final shots, ever).

People were supposedly walking out of the movie because they were scared. I can only imagine they were walking out because they were bored out of their minds. Much like the highest grossing movie of all time, Titanic, this film's ticket sales were fueled by younger audiences who were fooled by its triteness and allowed themselves to be scared by its vagueness and admittedly excellent performances. Peli's script completely fails to deliver on the scares and seasoned horror fans were left scratching their heads as to why so many people were tricked into buying his snail-paced direction and lame dialog. I keep asking myself how this exceptionally cheap ($11,000) indy movie from 2007 became the box-office sensation of 2009, and can only surmise that young American film-goers wouldn't know a good movie if it bit them in the ass. Paranormal Activity bit ass, alright. Just not in the good way.

Want to see an actually scary movie? Try Robert Wise's original version of The Haunting. Absolutely terrifying:

More bad 2009 Cinema, anon.

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