Look out for more ghostly invasions in ParanormalActivity2.
THROUGHOUT the making of Paramount Pictures’ Paranormal Activity 2, an unsettling specter floated over the production.
The apparition had nothing to do with the earlier haunted house blockbuster, a microbudget thriller that exploded into a popculture sensation and grossed more than US$107mil (RM342mil) in domestic theatres a year ago, becoming one of the most profitable releases in show business history.
Instead, the sequel/prequel was haunted by memories of Hollywood’s last effort to clone a similar scary story: Artisan’s Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, which took in less than 20% of the preceding film’s revenues and was so decisively despised by critics and audiences that it tainted 1999’s original Blair Witch Project by association.
“We were worried more than anything else that the new movie wouldn’t work,” says Oren Peli, the former video game designer who wrote, directed and edited the first Paranormal Activity and served as a producer on the update. “And I’m sure there are a lot of people who will want to make sure that it’s not Blair Witch 2.”
Paranormal Activity 2 plays very much like the original blockbuster, sharing its look and internal logic. Screenwriter Michael R. Perry and director Kip Williams set the new film in the days just preceding, and then the hours overlapping with, the ghostly invasion of Katie (Katie Featherson) and Micah’s (Micah Sloat) nearby dwelling in Paranormal Activity.
The follow-up unfolds in the Carlsbad residence of Kristie and Daniel Rey, Katie’s sister and brother-in-law. The couple has just
In pans fly, doors slam and other weird things happen in the house of Daniel and Kristie Rey. welcomed newborn son Hunter, but he’s far from the only new arrival in the house.
As security cameras document, their German shepherd, phantom-savvy teenage daughter and incantation-chanting nanny are no match for whatever is causing pans to fly off a rack, doors to slam without warning, and one person to exit a room rather swiftly.
That mysterious burned photograph found in the attic in the original film? Kristie and Daniel might have something to do with it.
Paranormal Activity 2 was made for a comparative fortune, some US$3mil (RM9.6mil) versus the first film’s initial US$15,000 (RM48,000) budget, largely because Paramount is obliged to use union labour in all phases of production.
producers Oren Peli (left) and Jason Blum.
But to preserve the first film’s discoveredfootage feel, the movie was cast with unknowns (the studio is not even releasing the actors’ names yet) and shot in the same shaky, home-movie style that was central to the original thriller.
Peli, who is finishing work on the sci-fi thriller Area 51, at first resisted making a follow-up, but Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore, production head Adam Goodman and executive Ashley Brucks all believed there was a way to catch lightning in a bottle twice.
Any number of possible sequel ideas were rejected because they disregarded the first film’s DNA.
“A lot of the pitches didn’t relate to the first movie – it was just a different kind of scary story, two other people in a house,” says producer Jason Blum, who supervised the movie’s development and production with partner Steven Schneider and Peli.
“We tried to keep it in the same language,” Blum says. “There was a desire on our part and the part of Adam and Ashley to not spend a lot of money on casting recognisable people and remain true to the spirit of the original film.”
But the two films also are intractably different, ultimately shaping how the new movie is marketed.
Given its homemade history, Paranormal Activity was about as organic as apples at a farmers’ market. The film was discovered by audiences as much as Paramount sold it to them – the release was jump-started by screenings at college campuses, and Paranormal Activity’s long lines were as influential in promoting the film as paid advertisement.
The new movie is a soup-to-nuts studio construction, not an independent film that Paramount acquired, and audiences no longer can unearth the movie on their own. — Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services n ParanormalActivity2 opens in Malaysian cinemas on Jan 6, 2011.