Paranormal Activity vs. Paranormal Entity

Release Dates:

Paranormal Activity: October 16th 2009

Paranormal Entity: December 29th 2009

Both Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Entity follow families that are being terrorized by a demon. Both films are seen through the handheld cameras of the families. The families decide to document all of the strange occurrences in the houses; TV’s turning on by themselves, objects moving, and the usual loud crashes.

After both families speak with paranormal researchers and decide to document the haunting on video camera, both hauntings drastically escalate.

It is decided that the demons in each movie are after the young woman of the house hold. Katie in Paranormal Activity and Samantha in Paranormal Entity.

Paranormal Activity: This movie was very creepy. It was more of a psychological thriller. The horror comes from anxiety and the expectations of what will occur by the audience them selves. It was overall a slow moving film up until the last fifteen minutes of the film. The movie was broken up by night and day. By day we see the couple, Katie and her boyfriend, Micah living their lives in terror and trying to figure out what to do about the demonic presence. We see their lives falling apart; in the beginning the couple is perfectly happy and in love. We see the very convincing, deterioration of their loving relationship. The stress of the haunting causes them to fight more often and we can see how exhausted they are. Throughout the film the couple gets very little sleep because that is the prime time of the disturbing haunting.

The demons presence is very apparent to the audience. We see the haunting through the video cameras left throughout the house. And the sound effects were key. The screams were high pitched and bone chilling. All the sounds made by the demon; the crashing and pounding, the voice of them demon, even its footsteps were very believable and terrifying. The sound effects and acting were what made this movie as creepy as it was.

Paranormal Entity: Known as a “Mockbuster”, the purpose of Paranormal Entity was to make money off of the hit, Paranormal Activity. Though almost identical to Paranormal Activity in the way the movie was set up and the plot, it did fall short on a few things. The acting was not nearly as good or convincing as the acting in its competing film.

The situation and occurrences were well apparent in Paranormal Activity…not so much in Paranormal Entity. There were many times when we heard screaming off camera but it was never explained why. Also, there is a scene when Samantha’s mother is explaining to the camera that “very bad things” have been happening to Samantha but it is never stated what was happening. I suppose these are left open ended to allow our imaginations to run wild but it made me more frustrated with my curiosity than anything else.

My main complaint is that the sound effects were not up to par. In a few scenes the demon was accompanied by a particular sound. This reminded me of how Jaws always showed up when the famous sound effect was heard.

This wasn’t appreciated because it cut out the element of surprise and anxiety.

Also, there were a few scenes that pounding on doors takes place by the demon. This just sounded like a bunch of people knocking on the other side of the door.

While nearly identical and both very creepy, Paranormal Activity is definitely the winner of this comparison. The higher budget film usually is…so why the “mockbusters”?

Assassination of a High School President


Release Date: January 17th 2008
Plot Outline: A newspaper reporter investigates the case of the missing SAT’s at his catholic high school.

I liked the detective wanna be feel…both intriguing and amusing.
The movie was unnecessarily perverted, but as a movie seeking teen viewers it was probably trying to get on their level and to appeal to them. Since teens are perverted this makes sense.

That’s really all I can say about this movie. I chuckled a few times and I liked the detective feel and narrations. Other than that I wasn’t too interested in the story. It wasn’t too captivating but then again…I’m not a teen. Maybe this film is just out of my age range.

The acting was what was expected in this type of film. I was kind of surprised with the acting because two of the main actors are Bruce Willis and Mischa Barton…need I say more? The best actor to me was the lead role, Reece Thompson. Never heard of him before but he played the part well. I felt like Willis and Barton were trying to hard to fit their roles. I can’t blame them for this though. If the film was better I think the acting would have been as well.

Paper Heart

Date Realeased: January 2009

Plot Outline: Charlyne Yi doesn’t believe in love. She decides to make a documentary about it.
One would think that a documentary about love, something so complex and intriguing would be absolutely fascinating. When it comes to Paper Heart, one would be wrong.

First of all, Charlyne Yi is not good in front of the camera and I was less than impressed by her interview skills. When there was an interview, that is. There definitely weren’t enough interviews and when they did occur they didn’t seem to be all that organized or in depth or intelligent. I felt like Yi never knew what to say. She doesn’t seem like a personable person so that may be why.

One thing I did think was a good idea was that Yi interviewed many different people about their perspectives on love. She interviewed elderly couples that have been together since their teen years, a children’s book author, children, and even bikers at a bar. The one thing I was disappointed in was that she interviewed scientists on the chemical reaction of love, which was an impressive idea, had she done it right. The scientists did not have a big enough part in this. They barely spoke on the subject at all. The most fascinating part of the film was cut short.

I am a Michael Cera fan but after he showed up in the film, it took an entirely different turn. Paper Heart then focused on the relationship between Cera and Yi, which, may or may not have been staged.
Paper Heart reminds me of a reality show. Its “reality” but not really…

The idea was great and this could have been a great film had it been done right and definitely by a different interviewer.

House

Date Released: November 7th 2008
Plot Outline: Two couples fight for their lives from The Tin Man while trapped in a house with him.

I was excited to see house because it seemed pretty creepy from the previews. I should have learned by now that scary movies are not all that scary.

House was basically a mixture of House of Wax and any other crappy “terrifying” teen movie you can think of.
The plot did not make sense at all. I don’t know if you can even call it a plot. At first it was set up as a serial killer movie and then out of nowhere there were demons or ghosts, which was baffling to me.

The house or the Tin Man, not quite sure, fed off of the couple’s fears or past experiences. Throughout the film we were present with a few small mysteries that were never explained. I don’t know if the writers forgot to add it in or they just didn’t care to add logic. But I didn’t care enough to be bothered by that.

There was a character, Susan that held a fairly important role. Her reason for being, who she was, or where she came from was never explained.
House wasn’t scary and it didn’t make much sense.
Is there any scary movie with an actual plot out there?

I have been on the search for the scariest movie ever made and have been failing miserably. Though, Paranormal Activity was probably the best I have seen thus far. The Ring scared me to death but I know I am just an idiot and scared myself. The Exorcist is too old school. Didn’t do it for me.

Send me recommendations of what you believe to be a truly successful terrifying film.

The Girl Next Door vs. An American Crime

Release Dates:

The Girl Next Door: October 3rd 2007

An American Crime: January 19th 2007

Plot Outline: Both films tell the horrifying true story of Sylvia Likens, a girl tortured to death by Gertrude Baniszewski, her children, and kids from the neighborhood in Indiana, 1965.

In The Girl Next Door, Slyvia Likens is played by Blythe Auffarth. In the film Slyvlia’s name is changed to Meg Loughlin. Meg and her sister, Susan Loughlin (Jenny Likens in reality) are left in the care of an aunt, Ruth (Gertrude Baniszewski in reality) and her three sons after their parents are killed in a car accident. The movie moves very quickly in revealing that something isn’t right in the household. Meg begs a neighborhood friend; David for food. She tells him that Ruth doesn’t let her eat and Meg has mysterious bruises on her body.

The situation quickly escalates; Meg is soon locked in the basement and tortured relentlessly by Ruth, her sons, and other kids from the neighborhood. She is starved, beaten, burned, branded, and raped. All the while Ruth is encouraging this behavior of the children. She even forces Meg’s sister Susan to harm Meg.

The Girl Next Door is dark and depressing. The music suits the mood. It moves quickly and is very explicit and heart wrenching. I suggest that viewers watch with caution. We actually see the children and Ruth torture Meg, we see her being beaten and burned, and we see her bruises. Meg (Auffarth) is in awful shape; she looks run down and on the brink of death. She actually looks like someone that has been tortured for months.

The acting for this type of intense, serious film was impressive. The actors all really got into the role and portrayed this film with the seriousness of the situation. I was especially impressed because a majority of the actors were children.

It is a very difficult film to watch but I recommend it because it is based on a true story. I think it’s a story that needs to be told.

Ellen page plays Sylvia Likens in An American Crime. Gertrude Baniszewski is played by Catherine Keener. Sylvia’s parents work for the circus and travel often this is why her parents were desperate to leave Sylvia and her sister with the mother of children that Sylvia and Jenny met at church. It is arranged that they would stay there as long Gertrude was paid 20 dollars a week.

The movie starts off very slowly. Nothing odd occurs until about an hour into the film. It takes much time to build the awkwardness and uncomfortable mood of living in the Baniszewski household. The slow pace is accompanied by upbeat fun music for the 60’s. This is not at all appropriate for the mood or tone of the film.

Everything is perfectly normal until Gertrude’s check doesn’t arrive on time. She takes out her anger and frustration on Sylvia and Jenny. She takes them to the basement and begins to beat them. After this the beatings continue often and for any sort of reason. Ruth has convinced herself that Sylvia is a whore and strongly disapproves. She says that Sylvia must be punished until she learns her lesson. She locks her in the basement and allows children from the neighborhood to come over whenever they want and do whatever they want to Sylvia.

This film is not nearly as violent or explicit. We know that Sylvia is being tortured but we do not often witness this. It is often implied by the camera work, music, and screams of Sylvia.

The Girl Next Door VS An American Crime

Overall I liked The Girl Next Door much more. The acting was much better and the mood and music were much more appropriate for the type of intense film that it is. Because all of the events were visible and quite evident it was more emotional and easier to feel for Sylvia on a much deeper level.

Each film contained some facts about the Likens case but overall, An American Crime was most like the actual story. I appreciated that it contained many facts from the actual case. In the beginning of the film it states that most of the film comes directly from the transcript of the court.

Phoebe in Wonderland

Date Released: March 6th 2009

Plot Outline: Phoebe in Wonderland surrounds the life of a little girl. We witness her struggles with her family, starring in the school play, and feeling different than everyone she knows.

I have to start off by saying that Elle Fanning is Incredible!!

Ok. Now that the facts have been stated…

Throughout the entire film we feel along with Phoebe’s suspicions that she is in fact different from other children. Something seems off and a bit odd for a child. OCD is rather obvious but there’s something more. We struggle along with her parents in trying to discover what really is going on with our adorable heroine.

The camera work was impressive. In one scene in particular, as the parents are fighting, phoebe and her sister are above them far off watching. The camera shows them in between the parents while they are fighting. We know their marital troubles involve the children and their priorities differ. They never seem to see eye to eye when it comes to their children, especially Phoebe.

Besides Phoebe’s family issues, I appreciated that we witness the discrimination Phoebe and her best friend, Jamie go through on a daily basis at school. Children attacking other children verbally, at times physically, and even out casting them is a real issue and I’m glad they made this movie as realistic as possible. Children go through a lot too and they really let us see that.

All of the emotion was well portrayed through the actors. Realistically portrayed, the struggles of a family especially if the family has a child with special needs. The strain on parents and on the sibling was made quite obvious and rang true to reality.

Among the incredible acting, plot, script, and camera work, the music was also impressive. It really backed up each and every moment with the desired feeling of the scene. It successfully strengthened the emotion in the scene.

Patricia Clarkson and felicity Hoffman are just jaw dropping. They are well-respected actresses for a reason and Phoebe in Wonderland proves that.

With an absolutely brilliant cast, Phoebe in Wonderland was nothing short of phenomenal. It is a sweet, inspiring drama. Complete with humor, a bit of mystery, and family dramas; Phoebe in Wonderland accomplished the ever sought after, ‘whole package’ film.  It was a new twist on an old tale. It was risky, but quite successful.