I’m repeatedly enamored with the Slamdance film festival every year since I started writing for Film Threat. While I respect and enjoy the Sundance tradition, I always seem to levitate more toward Slamdance these days for the fact that their short films, and feature length films always seem more original, and hip, unusual.
Reviewing the online shorts for Sundance, I’m a bit glad we only had ten because the five I reviewed (Phil Hall reviewed the other five) were rather great, as opposed to last year when there were more misses than hits.
One of my favorites of the year in Sundance was “I Love Sarah Jane,” a short film about a boy trying to find the girl of his dreams in the midst of a zombie apocalypse in Australia. In spite of his family dying, flesh eating monsters roaming the streets, and bullies running the neighborhoods, he intends on winning her heart.
An interview with director Spencer Susser is in the works.
As for Slamdance, I’ve reviewed more films from it, and so far I’m enjoying everything I’ve seen. They’re not all slam dunks, but damn, they’re entertaining. Who knew a short film about crane workers would be so engrossing?
One of the best films that has come to Slamdance this year, that many horror fans are hearing about and clamoring to watch is “Paranormal Activity.”
If you think you’ve had your fill of “found footage” films, then director Oren Peli will change your mind. If you hated “Cloverfield,” then by all means seek this out and give it a chance, because a ghost movie hasn’t scared me this much in literal years. And that’s fact.
Acting on the pretense of being found footage as a dedication to the victims, Peli’s movie revolves around a young couple who have decided to document wife Katie’s magnetic attraction to a demonic spirit that has stalked her since she was a baby, and no matter where she goes the demon follows her and makes her suffer. Her husband Micah has decided to play sensationalist and wants to document the findings of hauntings and mysterious nightly visits, and in spite of Katie’s anger, they get more than they bargained for.
“Paranormal Activity” is a traditional genre offering of its kind and I was hooked from minute one. The first of the chaos begins with the slight movement of a door, to which I wondered if this was all we’d get, and surely enough the film’s horror factor grows minute by minute with horrific midnight visits, hauntings that bring about incredulous entities, and an incident with a Ouija board.
At first lethargic and pessimistic, by the first half hour I was sitting at full attention and muting the television afraid of the jumps and jolts. At the end, I was just in sheer awe and sought out my mom (the biggest horror geek I know) and made her watch it. Suffice it to say, she left it shaken and stirred, and had trouble sleeping for a week. My sister, one who hates horror movies, has seen it five times and still has trouble sleeping. Obviously, this is a movie you have to see in a crowd and one that will get passed around like a bag of chips.
Peli refuses to let the cat out of the bag if the film is or isn’t fictional, but surely enough the word of the film is spreading like wildfire across internet boards, and fans want in on what Peli has to offer.
I was lucky enough to view the film months before it was accepted into Slamdance, and it became an instant favorite and hit my top 10 of 2007. Before I knew it, everyone in my family was borrowing it from me and every single reaction after watching was “Holy s**t, that scared the hell out of me!” And on raged the discussion.
Peli is a wonderful director, and a great guy, and I hope, with every inch of this horror geek’s being, that it gets picked up for a limited theatrical release or decent DVD release, because it’s a strictly word of mouth movie destined to be a classic. And the word of mouth is spreading fast.
All the correspondence with the man shows someone beaming with pride that his film is spreading, and he’s more than happy to oblige open minded critics.
I hope the desperation for the film from the fans doesn’t trigger an online torrent rush, because I’d really like to see horror fans buying the DVD and supporting Peli and all of independent horror, for that matter. I have a copy already, and mark my word, when it’s picked up, I’m buying another.
That’s the buzz right now with the film. Fans keep asking: Is it being picked up?
I hope so. I really hope so.
I have an interview with the man in the works, but surely enough, the fact his film is playing at Slamdance is one of the main reasons I tend to hover to that festival more.
If you didn’t like “Cloverfield,” or “The Blair Witch Project,” give this one a chance. I’ll be seeing this movie through and hope for all of its success. Peli really deserves it.