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October 12, 2009 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-12

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, October 12, 2009 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, October12, 2009 - 7A

Tonight's fright

Don't fly with FedEx. Apparently these suckers never saw 'Cast Away.'

COUPLES RETREAT
From Page 5A
they've proven it before numerous times. The problem
here is that they've been handed mediocre material
and were unable to transform it into anything more.
It's a real surprise that this script was written
by Vaughn and Favreau, who should both be able
to write better jokes in their sleep. The problem is
these two men are stuck playing the same character

over and over again. And, while it's still somewhat
funny, it's also getting old. It'll be interesting to see
if they ever realize that maybe it's time to stop rely-
ing on what worked in the past and take some more
chances.
A film like "Couples Retreat" is a pleasant but for-
gettable experience, which isn't always necessarily a
horrible thing. But, for a film that seems to have a lot
of potentially great elements going for it, we are left to
wonder what might have been. Either way, these actors
will recover and will go on to make more (and, hope-
fully, funnier) films.

A low budget turns
in big scares and
a few big laughs in
'Paranormal Activity'
ByJENNIFERXU
Daily Arts Writer
If you're thinking about watch-
ing "Paranormal Activity," do it
- but do it right:
Wait in line for
hours to catch a
midnight screen-
ing; sit down in Pranona
a packed theater Aff
with no legroom
whatsoever At the State
and strangers Paramount
breathing down
your neck; laugh
when the girl in the front row
screamswhenthedoorstartssway-
ing; grumble to your friends about
when the "scary stuff" is going to
start; laugh again. Relax, you can
handleit.And thenscream. Scream
like you never have before while
the guy next to you starts hyper-
ventilating uncontrollably. Scream
because your heart feels like it has
just dropped to the ground and
your mouth doesn't know what else
to do. You want to cover your eyes,
but you can't. You want to leave the
theater, but you can't. All you can
do is scream. If this sounds a tad.
exaggerated, go watch "Paranor-
mal Activity" tonight.
"Paranormal Activity" returns
to the essence of what a horror
movie should be: Without back-
stories and supernatural special
effects, it's a low-low-budget
($11,000, to be exact) movie with
a straightforward plot that can
still pull you in and never let go.
The film has become a nation-
wide phenomenon, advertising
itself as "the scariest movie since
'The Exorcist,' " but it lies in dif-
ferent territory than its supposed
predecessor. Rather than provid-

Just like watching scrambled porn, but with more ghosts.

GHOST LAB
From Page 5A
event led to the creation of the group Everyday Para-
normal - a club in which the members search for
ghosts and wear shirts that say "Everyday Paranor-
mal" on the back. From the seeds of Everyday Paranor-
mal, the concept of "Ghost Lab" was sprung.
The extreme lengths the brothers go to while
attempting to locate paranormal activity are amus-
ing, despite being (and possibly because they are so)
absurd. For instance, the cast goes to the Shreve-
port Municipal Auditorium - the famed spot where
Elvis began his music career - and begins to per-
form rockabilly songs in order to coax any linger-
ing spirits out of hiding. Later in the first episode,
the' gang travels to Myrtles Plantation ("one of
America's most haunted homes") and plays record-
ings of people reading Civil War-era letters. These
methods have dubious results, but any blip on the
radar or whispered voice is met with jubilation: The
brothers high-five and hug each other at anything
that's slightly out of the ordinary. Their reactions in
their ghost search are much more entertaining than

the ghost search itself, primarily because they never
find anything real, yet their reactions are always so
joyous.
Adding to the failure are the faux-scientific inter-
ludes, wedged into "Ghost Lab" at random points
seemingly in an attempt to establish academic cred-
ibility. Long shots of the "investigators" bending over
complicated-looking scientific equipment and urgently
discussing deviations in their instruments are a con-
stant in "Ghost Lab." When Brad and Barry seem on
the verge of discovering the ghost of a dead child, the
last thing anyone wants is an interruption to explain
the parallel universe theory of quantum physics. And
nobody wants to see an interview with a random his-
tory professor as he reviews the Civil War in excru-
ciating detail; while possibly informative, it's related
tangentially at best to riding around in an oversized
car hauler searching for ghosts.
But the show's biggest flaw is its utter inability to
achieve competence as a piece of documentary work,
in large part because there are no clear signs of para-
normal activity throughout it. And it's not even amus-
ing enough to watch simply to mock. While the concept
is interesting, the coupling of complete inactivity with
pompous academic explanations leads toa "Ghost Lab"
that blinds its viewers with failure.

ing any sort of religious expo-
sition, "Paranormal Activity"
jumps right into the action, rely-
ing solely on scare value. There's
a genuine tension in this film -
the kind that builds up drop by
drop until, all of a sudden, the
terror practically explodes out of
the screen. In this effect, "Para-
normal Activity" is highly suc-
cessful at what it sets out to do:
scare the shit out of you.
It's nearly impossible to explain
any aspect of plot in this film
without giving too much away. In
a nutshell, a couple moves into a
new house and tries to investigate
the "paranormal activities" going
on around them: faucets turning
on, light bulbs flickering, doors
spontaneously shutting, etc. They
hypothesize a demon might some-
how be linked to these events.Pan-
demonium ensues.
The movie is filmed with the
worst camerawork known to man,
which makes it all the more con-
vincing. Like its spiritual precur-
sor "The Blair Witch Project,"
"Paranormal Activity" adopts a
documentary style that makes
viewers half-believe these events
are actually happening. And like
"Blair Witch," there isn't a lot of
gore involved. The movie gets by
with few special effects and little
blood, proving that imagination

can be much more powerful than
visuals.
The film's greatest attribute.
is that it's actually funny, so
while audiences are waiting for
the climax to poke its head out,
they can laugh, too. The main
character plays comically pedes-
trian supernatural music before
the psychic arrives. When the
psychic tells the couple that the
demon feeds off negative energy,
he quips: "We shouldn't let your
mother come over anymore."
However, the humor is onlythere
to lull moviegoers into a sense of
complacency - make no mistake:
Many will scream, and they will
scream loud.
Thankfully, these deep-set
fears will not last long after the
movie experience. Essentially,
"Paranormal Activity"will scare,
but it won't scar. Having arrived
home, most viewers will still be
able to climb into their bed, turn
off the lights (except maybe one
distant desk lamp, just in case)
and not have nightmares. The
previously ghastly images -will
fade away into a distant memory.
That is exactly the kind of movie
"Paranormal Activity" is: a neat
little horror movie packaged in
an easily disposable case- - ulti-
mately satisfying, but relievingly
forgettable.

A

'it

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