Back in the long lost era of the early 2000s The Ring came out and Hollywood went on a delirious bender of remaking Japanese horror films for American audiences. Most of both the original films snapped up in this frenzy and their remakes were pretty worthless, but the whole exercise did serve to draw people’s attention to foreign movies that they might have otherwise overlooked.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this director Kim Jee-woon’s Janghwa, Hongryeon became the highest grossing Korean horror movie of all time and some executive presumably went through a thought process along the lines of “hey Korea is close to Japan, right? And the kids these days like them J-horror movies, right? Let’s stick it in cinemas and option the rights for a remake!”
Said remake took its sweet time coming out (more on that later) but the original was released in the US under the title A Tale of Two Sisters and turned out to be decidedly not the cheap Ring knock-off that many people, including a teenage me, assumed it was going to be.
It’s time for two more Paranormal Activity reviews!
Cliches about imitation and flattery often apply to later works riding the coattails of an influential or novel property, but it can just as be said of any attempt to revisit a beloved franchise. How often have we seen the distant sequel, prequel or remake stuff itself with knowing winks and call-backs, or waste time retreading familiar ground?
The Creative Assembly are clearly very much in love with Ridley Scott’s 1979 Sci-Fi horror film, but rather than strive for mere imitation they’ve taken the film apart molecule by molecule and reassembled the components into something that’s part remake, part sequel and all Alien.
[quick programming note: I’m going to be finishing off Otherbound in a single post toward the end of the month]
Back in 2009 Paranormal Activity came out and
Actually wait, back in 1999 The Blair Witch project came out and everyone thought it was awesome (well if you want to go back even further The Last Broadcast came out the year before (and there was also Cannibal Holocaust) but no one really noticed). The found-footage genre laid low for a while, The Blair Witch Project existing mostly as a unique novelty, but the financial legacy of the film couldn’t be ignored forever. Anything that makes literally ten times its minuscule budget is going to cause studio executive’s eyes to light up, even taking the film’s expensive marketing blitz into account.
But why make a shit-load of money on one cheap movie when you can repeatedly make a shit-load of money on a whole series of cheap movies? There was already a precedent for this, with the relatively inexpensive Saw franchise becoming a yearly Halloween staple, so it made sense for Paramount to drive Paranormal Activity into the ground with a whole boatload of sequels. We’re going to look at two of them today!
So I was going to to make a new post analyzing more of Silent Hill teaser demo PT for Spooktober, but then I found these videos by Youtuber Marszie, which more or less cover all the bases. I’ve embedded them below for your viewing pleasure.
(Note that the videos contain frightening and disturbing content)
Ghosts, am I right? Always haunting places and shit.
Luckily the mildly spooky and decrepit houses of the world are regularly visited by brave souls willing to combat the paranormal for the sake of world security! Referred to as Spook Warriors (by me), they use an expert combination of bullshit junk science and wandering around aimlessly to uncover ghostly activity! Sometimes TV channels offer them money to star in reality TV shows, further undermining their already shaky credibility.
Okay seriously though, some “ghost hunters” are actual skeptics who track down the mundane causes behind 99.999% of purported hauntings and will only ascribe the remaining 0.001% to paranormal activity when they find concrete evidence that such events are actually happening (ie never). And frankly, ghost hunting seems kind of fun. I’d sure as hell do it if someone asked me to, and I don’t believe in any of this shit. When else are you going to get to wander around a spooky house in the dark waving expensive science machines?
But the reality TV shows based around the exploits of these people are generally awful. Hilariously awful. So I decided to watch an entire season’s worth of one of them, for the lulz.
Ah, the humble walking simulator.
For those not in the know, “walking simulator” is a semi-derogatory phrase used to describe games like Dear Esther or Gone Home: primarily narrative and exploration-focused experiences that de-emphasize direct gameplay mechanics. I’m quite a big fan of this bold new horizon, bringing as it does a unique fusion of environment, gameplay and story to create something that feels more thoughtful than your average game.
So I was quite looking forward to The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and was subsequently quite disappointed to find out that it absolutely nails that first element, fumbles the second and utterly botches the third.