Sunday, November 1, 2015

2015 October Horror Challenge #101 "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension"

Since I make a point of watching these movies every Halloween, I was excited to have a new one to check out in theaters this year.  It didn't really need to be in 3D, that seemed like a silly gimmick to me, since the allure of these movies is that they use minimal special effects to present a haunting in a way that seems more real, but I was excited to see it nonetheless, despite the negative reviews.  There hasn't been one of these movies that I've hated; the second one is my least favorite, but I still thought it was ok and I've watched it more than once.  So how did the sixth installment fare?

Think about that: this is the SIXTH movie in this series.  It has its problems, but it's better than the SIXTH movie in ANY series has any right to be.  This one tries to tie up loose ends and leftover questions from the last five movies, focusing mainly on the third installment and the ideas presented there of a cult that is after children.  In this movie, a family finds a box in their house with an old camera and video tapes they didn't know existed.  The tapes show a family together in the late 80s, but eventually start to show strange supernatural activity focusing on some young girls.  Soon, their own young daughter starts behaving strangely, talking to an imaginary friend who seems to be asking her to do creepy things, and the family videos they take start showing odd and apparently paranormal events.

This is relatively the same plot we've seen in all the movies, but as I said before, it ties up some loose ends from the other movies in the series.  If you've wondered what happened to Katie and Kristy as kids, this movie answers that.  The problem, I think, is that we've seen a lot of what this movie does before.  The jump scares, shadows, weird noises, everythong that builds the tension in a movie like this can seem tedious the second time around, let alone the sixth.

I don't agree with the reviewers who say it's "unwatchable" (if you think this is unwatchable, you haven't seen enough bad movies) but I get how it could be boring.  I enjoyed this movie, but I did think it dragged a bit and took too long to get to the point, which shouldn't happen in an hour and twenty minute movie.  The actors do pretty well with their roles, especially the mom and the little girl, and while I thought it was corny at first, I eventually warmed up to the story of what happened to the little girls after the third film.  Overall, this movie drags too much and covers ground we've seen before, but I still enjoyed watching it, which for the sixth movie in a series, is saying a lot.

2015 October Horror Challenge #100 "Unfriended"

I really wanted to see this movie when it first came out, I was all excited, because I like found footage flicks, and this one looked cool.  I planned to buy the DVD as soon as it came out.  Then the reviews came in, and everyone started saying how bad this movie is, and it gave me pause.  Usually I like movies everyone else hates, so I probably should have ignored the bad reviews, but I'm poor now, so I can't afford to run out and buy every horror movie that comes out like I used to, so I decided to wait and rent it.

I was told that this is the first movie that takes place "entirely on someone's computer screen," and I thought that was hyperbole, but no, no, it really does take place entirely on a teen girl's computer screen.  The plot of the movie is familiar in some ways, but handled in a way I've never seen before: some teenage friends are skyping (video conference calling of a sort) and there's a mysterious person in the chat with them that won't show his face and none of them can hang up on him, though they keep trying.

It's the one-year anniversary of a girl's auicide, a girl they all knew from school, who was cyber-bullied before her death.  Soon, they start getting strange messages from the dead girl, who seems to know secrets about all of them and seems to know what they're doing and even what they're thinking. Soon the taunting turns dangerous.  Will they be able to stop whatever's happening before it turns deadly?

The novelty here really isn't in the plot, we've all probably seen a movie where the horrible teens hide secrets that are exposed as they begin to be stalked by a killer.  What's new about this movie is how the story is presented: a girl just hanging out online, chatting with friends, looking things up on her computer, listening to music, all normal until it slowly turns deadly.

This is a horror movie for a new generation of teens who hang out online instead of in-person, who Skype instead of talking on the phone, who look up details of news stories about the dead girl who's stalking them online instead of going to the library.  It's the same kind of movie: a killer reaches out to them and things they thought of as normal suddenly become scary and dangerous, it's just presented in a new format.  I liked it.  I didn't like the teens, but we're not really supposed to like them, and the actors do pretty well with the characters.

I don't agree with the viewers who say the teens are stupid and should just leave, the movie addresses that, they wise up pretty soon to the fact that something's wrong, but every time they try to leave, someone gets hurt.  I suppose this movie isn't for everyone, but I liked seeing it take a fresh approach to a story we may have heard before.  It was a fun watch.