Horror Movie Homework: Paranormal Incident (2011)

So lets go with something completely random to get this thing off the ground again, shall we?

This is a terrible, terrible movie. Really just…bloody awful. I watched it because I have had pneumonia for a month and I was desperate and I couldn’t stay awake for more than about an hour. But, honestly, if you fall asleep for the last part of this movie, you’ve missed nothing. You could write the end of this movie in your sleep. Seriously.

Now, there are good movies in this ‘found footage,’ ‘paranormal investigators’ genre. Don’t laugh. Grave Encounters 2 is actually startlingly good following a completely run-of-the-mill first film. Believe it or not, 100 Ghost Street ( an Asylum film!) is highly watchable — right up until the last few minutes when it goes phut but up ’til then? Totally reasonable popcorn movie. Then there are story type-straddlers like Yellow Brick Road which is just a freakfest of the best and most terrifying kind.

But Paranormal Incident is good for something: it illustrates something that I’m going to call the ‘idiot ghost investigator’ phenomenon and is one of the reasons that, regardless of a lot of other factors, I stick with Supernatural.

Incident is the basic set up: six college students get themselves locked into the local haunted insane asylum to debunk or prove the ghost stories about the place. Lah-lah-lah…you can fill in the rest. On the first night, they set up all their gear — where do they get all this shit anyway? — and go about filming their little scenes for the final project. In a lot of these scenes they’re filming, they ask if ‘something’ is with them or if ‘someone’ is in this room, etc., etc.

On a couple of occasions, they get ‘answers’: thuds, bangs, closed doors, moans, whatever. And on each. And. Every. Occasion. They freak the fuck out and run the hell away.

I mean, what’s the point? You asked the goddamn thing to shut the door or open the window (fermez la porte! ouvrez la fenetre!) and it obligingly does it and, instead of saying ‘thanks’ and offering to split a soda, you scream, swear, and abandon ship? No wonder the ghosts want to pull your fucking faces off! It’s the equivalent of attending a party, asking someone to hand you a beer, and shrieking in her face when she does it. Would anyone hand you a second beer? No. Would anyone want you to stay at the damned party? No.

So I guess the upshot is that if you decide to take five of your best friends or five people you’ve never met before in your life or your estranged siblings and their significant others or whatever pack of horrors you prefer to go investigate the local abandoned asylum or hospital or mansion or jail or whatever happens to be near you: don’t ask the spirits to do things and then freak the fuck out when they do it. Because if you do, I will root for the spirits to kill you with your goddamned little handheld camera.

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One thought on “Horror Movie Homework: Paranormal Incident (2011)

  1. Ha! Good point. Just once I’d like to see an investigator respond to a slammed door with a “whoa, cool! Can you write a message in the dust on this floor so we can chat? Or, hey, do you text? I got a phone with a keyboard right here…”

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