Paranormal Entity (2009)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Shane Van Dyke, Erin Marie Hogan, Fia Perera, and Norman Saleet
Directed by Shane Van Dyk
The Asylum’s Paranormal Entity opens with the following text:
"Last fall, Thomas Finley was arrested for the rape and murder of his 19 year old sister, Samantha Finley. He was also charged with the murder of Edgar Lauren, a paranormal investigator. Thomas claimed the victims were attacked by a demonic entity of unknown origin. Shortly after, he committed suicide while in prison."
Give The Asylum credit for going all out to sell their Paranormal Activity mockbuster as legit found footage. So determined is The Asylum to convince viewers the film footage is the real deal, they go so far as to proclaim it all to be 100% legit in the plot synopsis, do not roll any filmmaking credits or even a title card for that matter, and the various production credits on their own website are billed as "n/a". After all that effort what is the only text that appears on the screen when the film concludes?
"All events, characters, and firms depicted in this photoplay are purely fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental."
Genius, idiocy, or sarcasm: you decide.
A little birdie tells me that the production of Paranormal Entity was made for a budget roughly 4-5 times greater than that of Paranormal Activity, and from the moment The Asylum got the idea to make it to the time they completed it, it was a whopping two weeks. The actual shooting process lasted all of two days. I think Jim Wynorski took longer making his upcoming Para-Knockers Activity sex comedy.
Now me, I'm nowhere near as enamored with Paranormal Activity as many of my Dread Central colleagues are. Saw it, didn't scare me, but I still found it to be fairly enjoyable. Saw it a second time with some friends that were all underwhelmed to varying degrees, and even I have to admit to being far less impressed with the film upon further viewing. I know there are many of you that hate the film and consider it an over-hyped rip-off. To you I say...
If you thought Paranormal Activity was boring, wait until you see Paranormal Entity.
If you thought Paranormal Activity wasn't scary, wait until you see Paranormal Entity.
A six-minute sequence meant to be creepy consisting of the guy working the camera waltzing through the house recording his search for his sister - calling out her name the only dialogue during this period - only to find her in the attic standing there doing absolutely nothing and then absolutely nothing comes of it and the scene ends.
Looking faker and ringing phonier even as it follows the exact same night-by-night plot structure and camcorder visual style of Paranormal Activity, cameras are set up in the sister's bedroom and the living room, perfect for recording such edge-of-your-seat-because-you're-reaching-for-the-remote-to-fast-forward non-chills as the mother sleepwalking out of her bedroom and into the living room to begin psychic scribbling gibberish onto a piece of paper. More blackouts. More loud noises. More screaming. No clue how to make any of it work. A few flashes of gratuitous nudity do not make up for staging the entire climax off-camera. The only area where The Asylum improves upon the film it's ripping off is the brother working the camera being far less annoying than the Paranormal Activity boyfriend, at least until he starts screaming and yelling.
If you loved Paranormal Activity, you'll roll your eyes at this. If you hated Paranormal Activity, you'll hate this even more. If you watch Paranormal Entity and think it is the superior film, you're either letting your contempt for Paranormal Activity cloud your judgment or you clearly have horrible taste.
But there are some very brief moments of unintentional humor that might make you think for a few seconds here and there that they actually set about to make a parody instead of a rip-off. These instances of almost sublime stupidity are all there is to break up the unremitting boredom, making Paranormal Entity a smidgen more palatable than The Asylum's previous failed attempt at cinéma-vérité, their nigh-unwatchable Cloverfield mockbuster Monster (review here) - faint praise indeed.
Remember the Paranormal Activity scene involving the inhuman footprints? Here we get the "terrifying" discovery of what looks like muddy human footprints - on the ceiling! So the horny ghost of Fred Astaire is after the sister or what?
Even though this phantasm walks on ceilings, later on the brother will set up a series of bells on strings tripwires along the ground as a warning system - AND IT WORKS!
One of the first caught-on-tape signs of the entity's existence saw the crucifix hanging above the sister's bed falling off the wall, which in turn leads to a heated discussion the next day over whether or not this seemingly mundane happening was a surefire sign of a demonic presence in the house.
True story: One Christmas Eve when I was a teenager, I attended a midnight mass with my mom. It was standing room only so we were forced to stand in the back for the entire service. Hanging along the back wall of the church were these foot-high wood carvings depicting the Stations of the Cross. I looked over at just the right moment to watch the carving of Jesus carrying the cross spontaneously fall off the wall and hit this woman on the head so hard it nearly knocked her unconscious. I recall asking my mom afterwards, "If you're killed by a falling etching of Jesus, do you automatically get into heaven?"
1 1/2 out of 5
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