As much as I love the movie The Blair Witch Project, I sometimes bemoan (yes, bemoan) the day it was ever released. Why? Because its success has inspired so many similar rip off movies, with characters in the films carrying cameras and shooting the action while it unfolds. Usually these are "horror" movies, and usually they are ultralame. However, I really loved Cloverfield. Surprise! I watched it last night on DVD, knew almost nothing about it beforehand, and was happily shocked by how not-lame it was. Here's the plot: Friends have gathered for a going away party for Rob. Rob is in love with Beth, but hasn't told her and is leaving for Japan. Bizarro mutant monsters attack New York City. Rob runs through the city to rescue Beth, with a few of his friends in tow. One of his friends, an annoying fellow named Hud, films the shenanigans with a handheld camera, and this footage is the film we watch. It does not have a happy ending. Why did I love this movie? I have no idea, but I did. A lot. I read some reviews of it this morning, and they're black and white, love or hate. The destruction of the city kind of feeds on 9/11 images, I think. The monsters are pretty cool. I may have gotten emotionally invested in the characters a bit. It's no Apocalypse Now, but it was well worth the hour and a half and Netflix rental.
I can't say the same for Paranormal Activity. I had high expectations going into this one. Both this movie and Cloverfield were marketed virally, and maybe I was more exposed to the Paranormal Activity hoopla. I was expecting a spooky ghosty little movie. What I got was. . . The Blair Witch in a bedroom. The story was tweaked a bit, adding a possession and a romantic couple, but I didn't really care. I wanted the ghost or demon or spirit or atomic dog or whatever to eat them both by about twenty minutes into the film. Even the "twist" ending has been done to death. There was a complete lack of originality and suspense that made me yell at the television. I know, y'all think I yell at the television a lot. I tell you, it's not my fault! It's this movie's fault! It's the demon in the movie making me yell at the television. But, on a positive note, he can light candles with just his presence. No scrounging around for matches. Handy, that demon. Much handier than giant monsters that eat New York.