Thursday, January 5, 2012

Paranormal Wave in 2012

Hollywood is a predictable wave of reactionary studio film making. One studio hits it big with a successful franchise or genre idea so the other studios follow suit trying to steal a piece of that particular demographic. Like how Pixar and "Toy Story" created a surge of new CGI animation in late 90's, the success's of "Superman II" and Tim Burton's "Batman" spawned the superhero genre, horror movies like James Wan's "Saw" and Eli Roth's "Hostel" generated a bunch of torture horror titles, "The Blair Witch" created an entire genre of found-footage films. Take vampire movies, they have been around forever but a film like "Twilight" is a success and it brings on a whole new wave of romantically spun fantasy-genre titles. This is a perpetual cycle in Hollywood that can create both good and bad titles. Looking ahead at 2012 calendar it appears the next wave is ready to hit, one based off the box office success of the "Paranormal Activity" films, unfortunately this wave doesn't look like too fun to ride.

While creating my 12 Anticipated in 2012 list I was noticing a ton of movie titles that eluded to ghost, haunting, or possession stories. This got my brain turning and raised suspicion that we'd be seeing a number of paranormal activity-like movies coming our way. So I investigated further and found 7 movies already slated dealing with some type of apparition. And that doesn't even account for the recently announced sequel to "Paranormal Activity 3" or any other titles that have yet to land a release date.

This is ultra typical of the horror genre. Studios are constantly trying to find the winning combination at the B.O. and sadly leech off other previous ideas that work. Rarely it works, mostly these titles come across feeling like kitchen sink horrors or just another bad re-tread.

Sure I could be overreacting, there have been always been ghost stories. I mean the US remakes of "The Ring" and "The Grudge" certainly did there fair share of resurrecting the angered spirit storyline having studios vying for the next big hit out of a tormented soul. Still titles like "The Devil Inside," "The Woman in Black," "Playback," "The Apparition," "Sinister," "The Possession" and "ParaNorman" jump out as positioning to swipe a bit of the 'Paranormal' crowd's dividends in 2012.

Our first one hits this weekend too with "The Devil Inside." Ironically, the trailer for this one ran ahead of "Paranormal Activity 3" and the crowd took the bait hook, line, and sinker. Recently, I saw ads for 'Devil Inside' using the exact same promotional tactics the PA films have, like recording test audiences jumping during the screening, crowd testimonials after and using them in the promotional trailers to tease how scary the movie can be.

The real question is will any of these titles be good? Because if one of these movies is actually a good film and stands on its own two feet, is it a bad thing it started off as a reactionary film? There are plenty of reactionary films I can think of that were a good thing. Hell, the original "Superman" directed by Richard Donner was a reaction off the sci-fi/fantasy "Star Wars." Warner Brothers wanted a piece of the fantasy demo and thought 'Superman' was the perfect way to grab it. "Dick Tracy" and "The Rocketeer" are another couple of great reactionary title examples that came riding the coat-tails of Tim Burton's 'Batman' in a good way. On the other side of that, we have films like "The Phantom" and "Steel" that also rode the same coat-tails, except in the worst way possible.

The jury is still out on whether any of these new paranormal wannabes will be good or become a viable success at the box office, what is for sure, its fun to notice and think about these trends both their good and bad sides.