Apologies to Jeff Jarvis for stealing his title, but it’s just so darn appropriate! After my critical review of PA4 I got to talking to some friends about where I thought the franchise had gone wrong and what I would have done differently were I in the shoes of Oren Peli. Personally I think this was more of a “yeah… you think YOU could do BETTER??” type challenge, but in this case I actually do have what I feel is a reasonable and well thought out response! So in deference to Mr Jarvis, exactly how would the sharp minds at Google Labs have gone about crafting the official sequel to the original Paranormal Activity?
First off, I think it is resonable to continue the “found footage” approach. At this point it is really the signature of the franchise and it would be jarring to move away from it. It’s possible, but likely not a good idea. The key is, though, to avoid having it become the entire point. So yeah… Format sticks to found footage. But not in 3D. Or maybe optional 3D, but not “Dr Tongue” style 3D.
Here we have the meat of it. How do you follow up PA1? Consider, for a moment, where that film left us (and for the sake of discussion I am going to bolt the last few minutes of PA2 onto PA1 since that is where they actually belong in terms of continuity). Katie kills everyone and absconds with Hunter. The end. OK, so that’s the setup really. PA3 simply took us back in time and introduced lots of interesting, but maybe unnecessary honestly, complexity regarding covens and pacts and witches and grandmothers. So returning to the fate of Katie, what do we do?
Remember back in PA1? When they called in the psychic guy? Taking a page from Poltergeist they had some poor harrowed, but quite likely legit given the movie takes place in a universe where this shit is real, medium. He very quickly high tails it the hell out of there and suggests that Micah and Katie do nothing until his colleague returns from Africa. His colleague, from the university, is a demonologist. And again, within the scope of the movie, it is reasonable to assume that he is a real one.
Now that we have PA4, I can’t help but think… What the hell happened there? Lets follow the logic… Clearly the medium was rattled. Clearly he would have contacted the demonologist and said “hey… Dr. Morpheus (or some other impressive demonologisty name)… there is some >F’d< up shit happening to this idiot couple in XYZ Ville… you NEED to check this out PRONTO” Now… Dr. Morpheus returns from Africa. Would it not be immediately apparent based on the missing people, unsolved ,ass murders, and police activity (not to mention the hours and hours of unexplainable footage), that some bad shit was going down? Would the demonologist not investigate this? What the hell does a demonologist do if not hunt down and stop rogue demons and the idiots that make pacts with them? Maybe the Santeria proficient nanny from PA2 would have been a good place to start investigating! I would go so far as to say that it’s ridiculous that this didn’t happen!
So how would it have played out? Easy… The demonologist documents everything as any specialist in that type of role would. Interviews his medium friend on camera. Assembles a Ghost Hunters style team. And attempts to attack the demon. Thats a lot better than rehashing the same setup (scared family at home) a 4th time and introducing more witches (I mean how many powerful demon loving witches are we expected to believe exist in this universe?)
Easy… End it… Or don’t. Classic horror movie style. Either the demon is vanquished for good. Or maybe he isn’t. Or maybe something in between. Either way it would be more satisfying then simply continuing the string-a-long.
So that sums it up in 666 words! Funny coincidence that. The main text actually did complete at 666! Someone likes the idea! Or maybe not? Maybe its time to start sleeping with the webcam on!!!