There are times when you go with your eyes wide open into something that you know you’re going to regret. Remember the time that you ate an entire large jalapeno pizza and washed it down with a pitcher of beer? You knew you were going to be tasting those jalapenos again, probably sometime between getting the “room spins,”and the “hot sweaty chills.” You knew it was going to happen. You did it anyway. Remember that “morning after” when you rolled over and stared into the face of the living embodiment of regret. You aged a whole year in just ten seconds, didn’t you? Last call is not decision time!
When I decided to do this little blog, I knew that there were going to be regrettable movies that I’d have to watch – movies that I’d have normally avoided. Unlike the jalapenos-pizza vomit fest or the walk of shame, I do this out of the love I have for you, the one person who reads this blog. Sometimes I just have lean in and take one for the team. Paranormal Entity is an example of one of those movies.
Ellen Finley (Fia Perera), who a year after her husband’s death, is still wracked with grief. She had taken up writing little letters to her deceased husband in an effort work through the loneliness and pain. Then he started to write back, presumably through automatic writing with Ellen acting as a medium. After the initial joy wore off, it soon became apparent that whoever, or whatever, wrote back to Ellen wasn’t her husband, but something else – something she inadvertently invited into our world from the outside.
Let’s stop right here for a moment. That sounds like a fairly promising plot, doesn’t it? They should have made that movie, but they didn’t. Unfortunately, it’s treated as Paranormal Entity’s back story. Instead writer/director Shane Van Dyke chooses this as a jump off point to rip-off Paranormal Activity.
The movie is a “found footage film” about Ellen; her twenty-something son, Thomas (Shane Van Dyke); and her twenty-something daughter, Samantha (Erin Marie Hogan), who both inexplicably still live at home. Thomas is running around with a camcorder and has cameras set up in various areas around the house in an attempt to document the recent supernatural activity in the house. The paranormal entity is focused on Samantha and Ellen, which works out well as it leaves Thomas free to film everything.
Through a series of events such as: making prank calls in the middle of the night, turning the TV on and off, knocking a cross off the wall, and doing something that sounds like it’s rolling a bowling ball around on the house’s laminated wood floor; the entity tries to ratchet up the tension. Maybe this would have worked if I hadn’t seen the movie they were ripping off first, but I doubt it. Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity used a light touch, slowly adding in the spook house scares such as a door slowly creaking shut on it’s own – to great effect. Conversely, Paranormal Entity, slams the door in your face, hoping that the loud noise will scare you. It shows the same subtlety as the two Great Danes who humped on your lawn during your last family barbecue.
I have a few words about the movie’s title. Choosing to name the movie Paranormal Entity conjures up an image of a confused Mom roaming the aisles of Blockbuster looking for the movie her daughter wanted for her spooky slumber party. All Mom can remember is that the movie is was called “Paranormal Something or Other” and grabs the first movie she sees – Paranormal Entity. “Oh, I think that’s the right one, isn’t it? And, oh, look! There’s the new Sandra Bullock movie! Mommy will settle down with that while the girls are chowing on pizza and watching their scary ghost movie. “
Another thing that bugged about this movie was the house itself. It looked as if it had been used as a group home or put to some sort of commercial use, like a day care or a really ugly bed and breakfast. Homes typically do not have a big fire extinguisher mounted on a wall in the hallway. The thermostat also had one of those clear plastic security covers on it. You know the kind I’m talking about, the kind that has one of those small round locks and takes a tiny key with a circular end. People just don’t normally have stuff like that in their house.
Another thing about the house, there was nothing personal about the inside. All the furniture looked like it came from a rental store. All the housewares, bedding and the rest looked as if it cost literally hundreds of dollars and was all purchased at the same time from the local Target. The house didn’t look like people lived there. None of the rooms had any person items, clutter or junk that real life generates. Heck, the girl had a totally empty closet. I have yet to meet a female of any age with an empty closet. Instead of a home, it looked like a house that might serve as a location for a porn movie shoot – perhaps it was. Laurels and a hearty handshake to the reader who can find this house in a porn film. It might seem like I’m going out of my way to pick on Paranormal Entity, but the house really bothered me.
The “Paranormal” in Paranormal Entity clearly comes from Paranormal Activity, so what about “Entity?” Well, horror fans, you’ll be totally astonished to learn that Shane Van Dyke didn’t copy Paranormal Activity’s ending. No, for that he snipped a bit from Amityville Horror and a bit from The Entity. You see, the paranormal entity wants to rape Samantha ala The Entity, which it does before killing her. The police then show up thinking it’s a family massacre with supernatural overtones like the DeFeo crime in Amityville and pin the whole thing on Thomas.
You might be screaming, “Thanks for spoiling the movie, jerk.” I’m not. At the beginning of the film, they tell you how it’ going to end.
Now the good stuff, more or less. The acting was okay, though there seemed to be times when the actors sort of wandered through their lines. I suspect that was due to a lack direction. I have give credit to Shane Van Dyke for writing, directing and staring in a movie whose total production time was probably shorter than the time I took to write this review. Sure, Paranormal Entity is a ham-handed rip-off of a far better movie, but at least it wasn’t boring.
Shane Van Dyke
Erin Marie Hogan
Shane Van Dyke
Shane Van Dyke