Here is my thing about going to the movies, I rarely get to go other than to family movies. Never mind that my wife and I have seen a rated R movie in over a year. Even more, I have not seen a horror movie in the theater since The Blair Witch Project; which oddly enough does ties into these two movies.
Katie (Katie Featherston) and her boyfriend, Micah (Micah Sloat), are a young couple who recently moved into a two-story tract housein suburban San Diego, California. Katie claims that a ghostly presence has haunted her since her youth and believes that it has followed her to their new home. She hires a psychic, Dr. Fredrichs (Mark Fredrichs), who assesses that she is being haunted not by aghost, but by a demon. He says the demon feeds off negative energy, and its intent is to haunt and torment Katie no matter where she goes. Before leaving, he advises them not to taunt or communicate with the demon, and to contact demonologist Dr. Johan Averies for help. Instead, each night, Micah mounts a video camera on a tripod in their bedroom to record any paranormal activity that might occur while they sleep in the hopes of solving the problem himself.
The camera manages to capture several supernatural phenomena which remain minor at first, including the bedroom door moving by itself, and the sound of rapid footsteps downstairs. As Micah consistently taunts the demon, the phenomena gradually grow worse, including loud bangs and inhuman noises reverberating from deep within the house. One night, Katie awakens to spend several hours standing by the bed staring at Micah while he sleeps and goes outside to sit on the backyard swing, none of which she remembers the following morning. Katie, already irritated by Micah’s making light of the situation, becomes irate when Micah brings home a ouija board despite Dr. Fredrichs’ warnings. While the two are out of the house, the Ouija board‘s planchette moves on its own and a small fire erupts on the board, extinguishing itself moments later. The next night, Micah sprinkles talcum powder in the hallway and later the couple finds non-human footprints leading to the bedroom from the attic. In the attic, Micah finds a burnt photograph of a young Katie, which was previously thought to have been destroyed in a house fire.
The morning after a particularly intense haunting, a loud bang is heard and they discover the glass over a photo of them has been smashed with Micah’s image scratched underneath. Dr. Averies is abroad when Micah finally agrees to invite him, so Dr. Fredrichs comes instead. Upon his arrival, Dr. Fredrichs immediately has a sense of dread. He apologetically leaves despite their pleas for his help, stating that his presence is only making the demon angry. Two nights later, Katie is dragged out of bed and down the hallway by an invisible force. Hearing her screams, Micah gives chase and seizes her back; the next morning they discover a gruesome bite mark on her back. Stressed and exhausted, the couple decide to go to a hotel. Later, Micah finds Katie gripping a crucifix so tightly that it bloodies her palm. Micah, angry at a situation he cannot control, burns the crucifix and the picture found in the attic. Just as Micah is set to leave, a suddenly calm Katie insists they remain at the house, claiming that they’re “going to be okay now”, her voice speaking dually with the demon’s voice.
Later that night, Katie awakens to once again stand and stare at Micah while he sleeps. After standing and staring at Micah for approximately three hours, Katie goes downstairs into the darkness. After a moment of silence, Katie lets out a blood-curdling scream, waking Micah who rushes to her while the camera records what sounds like a struggle downstairs. The screams suddenly stop, and a brief silence is followed by the sound of heavy footsteps coming up the stairs. Micah’s body is violently hurled at the camera, knocking it over. Katie slowly walks into view, her clothing soaked with blood. Crouching over Micah’s body, she slowly looks at the camera with an evil smile and suddenly lunges toward it, with her face adopting a demonic appearance right before the screen fades to black.
The film ends with an ending title card stating that Micah’s body was discovered a few days later by the police, and Katie’s whereabouts remain unknown.
Samantha Finley (Erin Marie Hogan), her older brother Thomas Finley, and their mother Ellen Finley, are a family who have lost their father David. Ellen tries to contact her husband by writing to him and is overjoyed upon receiving a written response. Soon the family claims that a ghostly entity is haunting them. At first they think it is their father/husband David, but after a series of horrible attacks upon Samantha they begin to suspect otherwise.
One night the camera records Ellen sitting up in her bed and leaving her bedroom. She is then seen walking into the living room and kneeling at the coffee table where she writes something on a piece of paper. Ellen stands up, crumples the paper and walks back down the hallway. Thomas finds the paper in Samantha’s bedroom under her pillow and opens it to see that the writing spells out the word MARON. Thomas suggests that Ellen and Samantha stay at a hotel while he remains at the house to deal with the problem.
That night, Thomas rummages through a toolbox and finds three bells and some thin wire. On the archways outside his bedroom, the living room and the dining room he sets up traps. The idea is that should the entity enter a room the bell on the wire will jingle. When this does eventually occur, Thomas investigates. The wire and bell outside his door are ripped from the wall and thrown at him. Thomas then shuts himself in the bedroom, where the entity bangs on his door.
Just as the banging stops, Thomas receives a phone call from Ellen, who is in hysterics after the entity apparently followed them and again attacked Samantha. Upon arriving back at the house, Samantha is hunched over and in pain. Ellen says that it looked like something was holding Samantha’s arms before dragging her off the bed.
Thomas awakens at night, finds his sister missing and sees the front door standing open. He searches outside but cannot find her. He later finds the attic ladder hanging down and ascends it to find her silently standing there in a state of undress and in a trance. Upon awakening, Samantha is unable to recall anything from that night.
The following night, Thomas calls the previous owner of the house, asking if anyone under the name of Maron ever lived or died in their home, but the previous owner does not recognize the name. Soon afterwards, Thomas hears Samantha screaming. He rushes to the bathroom and finds her lying topless in the bathtub, wide-eyed and severely traumatized.
Ellen wakes after hearing thuds from outside. In the living room camera she is seen to stand in the archway for a few minutes before disappearing back into her bedroom. Thomas later wakes up, after hearing a door slam shut, and finds that Ellen has slit her wrists, weapon still in hand. She is then taken to the hospital.
Thomas and Sam are left at home when a self-professed paranormal expert arrives and walks through the residence. He explains that there is a powerful dark entity in the home and that Samantha is the focus of its attention. The psychic explains that the entity gained entry into the home via the supernatural gateway that was unwittingly opened up by the mother during her unsuccessful attempts to contact the spirit of her dead husband. Thomas gives the researcher the note his mother wrote in her sleep bearing the name “MARON”. It turns out that “maron” is Old Germanic for “nightmare” or, more specifically, incubus, which is the entity that has targeted Samantha.
The psychic agrees to help them evict the entity when the video fades to black.
After a pause, the camera’s POV shows the doctor’s bleeding head and vacantly-staring face resting sideways on the floor and “looking” toward the lens. Thomas is heard panicking. He grabs the camera after hearing Samantha screaming in agony and runs to her bedroom. We see that the house is in total disarray. Thomas finds his sister naked and levitating above the floor in her bedroom stark, covered in blood while being attacked by some invisible force. He drops the camera and tries to help her. A gurgling noise is heard off-screen, and an unseen figure picks up the camera and focuses it on Samantha’s lifeless face.
A notice at the beginning of the film revealed that Thomas was convicted of murdering the psychic and raping and killing Samantha. Despite his pleas, he was sent to prison, where he committed suicide sometime later.
At the end, it is revealed that upon hearing of both of her childrens’ deaths, Ellen also commits suicide.
Thanks to Netflix, I mistakenly thought that Paranormal Entity (PE) was the Paranormal Activity (PA) movie that came out recently in the theaters. I discussed the events with a co-worker about Entity (thinking Activity) that apparently happened the same in Activity. Wow, that’s bad sign. Then again, the company who put out PE, The Asylum, is know who making these copies of popular movies like Transmorphers. (I wonder what this movie was originally called, hmmm?) In fairness, having seen both movies, there are some similar plot lines and some scenes that are better done but there were moments where I am taken out of the film and not staying immersed as in Blair Witch.
One of the scenes I discussed with me co-worker was about the footprints. PA’s Micah throws down talcum/baby powder on the floor to catch the pesky loud stomping demonic ghost. There is some evidence shortly afterwards. In PE’s Thomas, discovers footprints on the ceiling. The next day, he finds the footprints came from the ashes of their late father’s urn. In both cases, this is not enough evidence to simply get the $*ck out of the house. Come on, they made the argument that if they leave the “ghosts” would follow them but why for the love of god do you stay and keep recording. However, the next day, both powders are cleaned up. Come on, why are you getting rid of evidence to prove your claim?
Here’s the other thing about the recordings, PA has one camera and PE have several cameras. As these tape were uncovered after the events were recorded, there is a matter of editing. With PA, the camera at times has a visible time clock but is only seen at night. However, when Heather stands up from her sleep, the video goes into time lapse. So, who exactly did this while Micah was asleep? Are the police watching this video? In the PE situation, there are several camera recording different areas of the house and yet, the video is spliced together. Not to mention, there are title cards to indicated how many nights they are into plus the date. Who exactly is doing this? For me, if I have to ask this question then I am not in the moment. Even Blair had this problem but I am more forgiving because of what they were attempting as they were the first to try this low tech movie making approach.
Another movie came to mind which made me think as how PA and PE could have worked better and that was Cloverfield. In this movie, we had the one camera and the single P.O.V. for most of the film. In the end, the two remaining survivors turned the camera on themselves essentially saying goodbye before their end. With PA and PE, the camera is put on the counter to record themselves or have to be put down in a certain spot and then the camera operator walks into the shot (More on this in a bit).
One of the surprises in PA, is towards the end where Heather is pulled out of the bed. First, one of legs is yanked on which moves Heather to the floor. She panics and then she is dragged down the hall with her legs firsts. She is screaming for Micah to wake and for a while he doesn’t. Great scene to watch but still don’t know how this effect was achieved.
(Here is more about the previous bit. ) Normal people in these situation, I believe, would forget to take the care with them in the case of emergencies. I know I was woken up during Hurricane Andrew and recorded the situation because the power went out but this was just short term. Had there been a situation where someone was in danger or a more serious situation, the camera would not be the first thing I would take. PA did it right at the end. Micah wakes after he hears Heather screaming bloody murder downstairs. For once, he left the camera behind. A few seconds later, the screaming stops and the Micah is thrown into the camera in the bedroom. The camera is knocked to the side and then in come Heather but not Heather. She give this weird look the to camera and closes quickly into the camera. The image goes black and we get another title card about what had just happened. Again, I am taken out of the moment.
With PE’s ending, we get a less desirable effect. With the Mom in the hospital, we get the “expert” doctor who finally comes to the house. A few minutes later, the doctor gets killed but we assume it’s the demon but the camera stops recording and then gets restarted with a closeup with of the dead doctor lying on the floor. We then get a scream from Sam and then Thomas picks up the camera and runs towards her room. We see Sam somewhat levitated, not really as I can see a black box she is lying. She is covered in blood and nude. (Way to throw in some sex in the last minute.) Finally, Thomas puts the camera down. We hear more scream but ends with this weird choking noise. The came is then picked up and pans over Sam’s dead body as seen above. This time, there is no blood except for a cut near her breasts. So, who exactly recorded this final image? It wouldn’t be Thomas, right? The screen goes black and another title card telling us that the police found Thomas holding his dead sister in his arms. Thomas gets arrested. The mom hears the news and commits suicide. Shortly thereafter, Thomas kills himself. Why did it take over a year for the “footage” to be revealed? If the cops, blamed Thomas for what he did to the family, who hid the film? Again, I am asking too many questions and I am taken out of the situation.
Overall, there are a few chills worth watching but capturing the lightning in the bottle a la Blair Witch or Cloverfield this is not.