Sound On Sight Radio #165: Halloween Horror 2009

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With Halloween looming, Ricky, Al and Simon take the opportunity to catch up on two recent supernaturally-inclined movies, as well as one ’80s chestnut that recently got the neutered, PG-13 remake treatment. New in theaters: the word-of-mouth phenom Paranormal Activity, made on eleven grand and beating out Saw VI at the box office, and book series adaptation Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, the latest attempt to get younger audiences in seats through bloodsucking. Finally, long before Lost, Terry O’Quinn starred as family-values serial killer Jerry Blake in ’80s horror flick The Stepfather, and we’ve decided to bypass the dismally received remake, and instead talk about the 1987 version.

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  1. PlanBFromOuterSpace says

    I guess I should have stated right at the beginning that I was talking about “Paranormal Activity” (obviously), as I totally forgot there were 2 other movies discussed in the podcast. Whoops…

  2. PlanBFromOuterSpace says

    I sort of also took issue with the stuff the characters talking about being scarier than what actually ended up in the film. I realize that with the small budget, there was only so much they could do, but there seemed to be things set up earlier in the film that just never paid off. At one point, Katie mentions the stuff she’d experienced before, like how she had seen a shadowy figure at the end of her bed as a child. Do WE ever get to see it? Even when things start getting reeeaaallly bad? Nope. Also, you keep thinking the entire time that maybe something will happen in the hallway, I mean, that’s why they put the camera where they did, but we just get a shadow or 2 and the lights going on and off.

    One of you mentioned that the film gains a lot by watching it with an audience, and I’m sure it does. I work at a theater and pretty much watched it by myself (OK, with 1 other person, but I’d hardly call 2 people an audience) at like 3 in the morning the night before we started showing it, and I really wasn’t scared at any point, because again, I was just expecting a lot more, due mostly to the unreal hype. However, the next day, when I was doing theater checks, I noticed people responding in big ways to even the most predictable parts. For instance, there’s the part with the ouija board where it sits there…it sits there…it sits there…AND THEN IT MOVES, and at that point I heard someone go “Oh my GOD!” like they’d never seen something move by itself in a movie before, which I got a kick out of. It’s because of that that I’ve been telling people that it’s almost like it’s a perfect horror film for people that don’t watch horror films, like for people that have big reactions to simple things like that. A part of the film’s success is probably due to more of THAT crowd being drawn in. Again, as you stated, the marketing was brilliant, and those people probably really bought into the whole “You demanded it, the scariest movie ever!” crap.

    Was it just me, or was this a very PG-13 film, aside from a few f-bombs in the later half? On one hand, I’m almost surprised that they didn’t do a little re-dubbing to lose the R rating, but on the other, the movie cost Paramount nothing besides the distribution and marketing costs, and by keeping it R, it makes it seem a little more special I guess, and they were never going to LOSE money on the thing in the first place. Hadn’t it been sitting on the shelf for 2 years already anyway?

    Overall, I thought it was a very well-made film, and I didn’t find anything particularly wrong with the acting or story, aside from Micah getting dumber and dumber as the film goes on. I just think I would have enjoyed it a bit more and would have gotten more out of it if I hadn’t been beaten senseless with the hype. I’m wondering, if this thing continues to play well, do you think Paramount will pull a “28 Days Later” and send out new final reels with the “shocking alternate ending!”?

    1. Ricky says

      I would have loved to have seen this film in an empty theater at 3:00 in the morning but I have to say that I was still scared at times. The director had a lot of patience in holding his shot before he jolted you with a scare. I think that is why it works. It is all about the anticipation. You know something is coming and you prepare yourself. Timing is everything and the movie’s timing is perfect.

      Glad you still think it is good cinema despite the fact that you were not scared.

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