1. Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount, 2,900 Theaters, 91 Minutes, Rated R): The first Paranormal Activity was such a surprise hit that it became a mini-national sensation when it was released last year. It hit wide release two years after it was made, it cost a pittance to make–an estimated $11,000 (and yes, those zeroes are right), and became one of the most profitable films of all time.
Of course, when a concept makes money, there is a rush for a sequel. But often times, a sequel isn’t the best idea in the world. I think that this might case here.
Part of the success of the original was the novelty of a demonic possession caught slowly over time on video tape. That gimmick, and it’s final twist pay off during the film’s grim ending, was what drew people in. Returning to the well with the same gimmick a second time isn’t as novel.
The first was a surprise success in relation to its low, low cost. This version cost more, an estimated $2,750,000, but still cheap enough that it should make a tidy profit considering the amount of theaters it’s in. But there is bound to be a let down.
2. Hereafter (Warner Brothers, 2,181 Theaters, 129 Minutes, Rated PG-13): It has a director who has built himself up from a B-movie actor to one of the most respected, awarded and admired directors in the world in Clint Eastwood. It is written by one of the most talented writers working in films today, Peter Morgan. It has Matt Damon and an all-star international cast filled with some of the best actors the world has to offer. But I’d rather carve my eyes out with a rusty spoon than see this film.
It’s not that I particularly mind films that deal with death. But this film is soaking in it. It’s about three people touched by death in different ways who come together in search of answers.
Yeah, but considering Damon’s character has a special bond with the afterlife and it looks like a young boy will be losing his brother, this film will be way too heart wrenching for me to sit through. I don’t forsee this film being a life reaffirming experience, I see it being more of a test of endurance to make it through all the grimness.
Well, this week it’s pretty much Hereafter or nothing. Eastwood is an Academy favorite, Morgan has two nods to his name, and Damon has to acting nominations and won an Oscar for his writing. And the film is the serious, challenging subject matter that Academy voters dig. Something would have to go seriously wrong for this film not to get a passel of nominations.