Low budget super-simple indie horror Paranormal Activity hits UK cinemas on 27 November, having beaten Saw VI to the top of the box office in the US at Halloween.
This is a movie made for buttons, shot on a handheld, set in a bedroom, starring no one famous, and it’s pretty damn scary.
Essentially Blair Witch in a house. It’s great. I really enjoyed it. I did a ‘wah!’ noise at the end. And now I want it re-made. In Spanish.
First off: blah, blah, blah horror remakes are rubbish, whatever, I’m not interested.
Hollywood does it enough times the other way round, there are apparently only seven stories in the world anyway, there’s nothing new under the sun, and just because it’s a remake doesn’t automatically make it bad.
Tell you what, we can call it a‘re-imagining’ if that makes you feel any better?
But just think what the current wave of Spanish-language horror directors could do with this material.
Take the characters, the emotional heart. I challenge you to name a more emotionally satisfying horror in the last five years than The Orphanage.
Imagine depth and impact he’d give to Katie and Micah’s relationship? Yeah, he’d still scare the trousers off you at the finale, but afterwards you’d feel bereaved.
And talking of endings, you don’t get much more ‘holy crap, what the hell is that??!!!’ than the closing shots of Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s [REC].
Timing won’t be a problem (corpse in the stairwell moment, anyone?) but why not in Actividad Paranormal play with a load of extra freaky shit?
There’s real world simplicity in the way Paranormal US is shot. But tell me you wouldn’t be curious to see the same story shot by Gabe Ibáñez, director of 2009’s Hierro?
Hierro’s not one of my personal favourites but my god it looks stunning, it’s like an art installation
Then there’s the ‘monster’. Blair Witch had the Bell Witch mythology but Para-Us doesn’t really delve into that.
Doesn’t mean Actividad shouldn’t though – calling Mexican director Rigoberto Castañeda! (He speaks Spanish, it counts...).
His emotional and very creepy KM31 hinges on the legend of La Llarona – ‘the crying woman’ – a popular legend in Mexico.
“Every kid knows about it,” according to Castañeda. “People tell you if you don’t behave the crying woman is going to come at night and grab you and take you with her.”
Bingo, you’ve got an instant back story and a whole extra dimension that everyone understands and is already frightened of before you even pick up the camera.
But there’s another advantage to this Spanish remake that transcends the fact that it’s clearly going to be the horror movie of the year. No, wait, the movie of the year; The audience.
The screening of Paranormal Activity that I attended (a press screening) was hampered by a group of utter, utter wankers sat 3 rows back from me.
They kept getting up and walking around. They laughed loudly every time they thought anything vaguely scary might happen.
And one of them insisted on ‘guessing’ what would happen next very loudly all the way through. (‘the door’s going to slam!’, ‘she’s going to....’ Well I won’t say. But you can imagine.)
This lot are never going to go and see a Spanish language movie. Never gonna happen. They don’t go to the movies to ‘read’ (I’m sorry. I’m angry. They ruined it for me).
Subtitles = smaller box office in the UK and US. And for that I’m sad. But if it weeds out the idiots I’m willing to take some small comfort.
And of course foreign = clever and legitimate, obviously, doesn’t it?
Actividad will deserve awards and for some stupid reason it’s seems to be tough for genre films to nail the top accolades.
The last horror movie than won the Best Picture Oscar? That’ll be Silence of the Lambs in 1991.
A movie about race relations, or someone who died, or a historical figure is not intrinsically more worthy than a film that scares you stupid.
If a film does brilliantly what it sets out to do, if it stuns you, moves you, makes you think, feel, makes you react, scream, laugh, cry, then it deserves recognition.
And believe me Actividad will do all of that.
So Juan, Jaume, Paco, Gabe, Rigoberto, what are you up to in 2010? Maybe have a word with Guillermo Del Toro about producing? We’ve got a movie with your name on it and it’s going to be incredible.
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