They are films that horror fans either love or hate. With their at times dodgy, stomach turning camera movements, characters that are meant to be easy to relate to for the viewing audience, unexplained, scary events taking place in scenarios we ourselves find us being in on a daily basis, and, of course, the most important piece of marketing in getting the audience to believe that the events you are watching were based on true events, horror films in the style of documentaries have become a common occurrence over the past few years.
Ever since ‘The Blair Witch Project’ (1999) first hit our cinema screens, the idea of ordinary people like you and me becoming entangled in mysterious and seemingly paranormal events that more often that not end in tragic circumstances have become the most common of horror film. In 2009, a decade after the film phenomenon of ‘The Blair Witch Project’, a new series of horror film using similar techniques to that of the previously mentioned came along under the name of ‘Paranormal Activity’. The film was a huge box office success, raking in millions on both sides of the pond, and has since increased its income and popularity through the coming of three sequels; Paranormal Activity 2 (2010), ‘Paranormal Activity 3’ (2011) and ‘Paranormal Activity 4’ (2012), with this four film series soon to be coming five with the release of ‘Paranormal Activity 5’ due late this year or early 2014. While for many the series has earned a firm place in their film collection as well as a favourite amongst many a horror fan, for some horror fans out there films such as ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project’ are the lowest of the lows when it comes to this genre of film.
As realistic or unrealistic as some of us may find what goes on in these films as being, it cannot be denied that, scary or not, the idea of having events similar to those that take place in films such as ‘Paranormal Activity’ that take place in a home like any other, is a horrible thought, and one that can’t be helped but to cross your mind when home alone on a dark, stormy night. Well, in all honesty it doesn’t have to be a stormy one, a general night time environment will do just the trick. For a lot of people I know, the reason why they find the events that have unfolded in this particular series of horror film disturbing to watch for the main reason that it plays on their mind when alone at night, with there no comfort coming from the fact that they are home alone at the dead of night in their homes, and the characters in the film are in pretty much exactly the same position as them. Trying to convince yourself that what you have earlier watched is just a film is that little bit more difficult when the environment it is set in is not some unrealistic place that you would never find yourself in. Oh no, it becomes all that bit more difficult to separate fiction from reality after watching films such as these.
My post before last spoke of how horror films that involve psychopath killers on the constant hunt for blood spill and death are the most terrifying around, for the obvious reasons of the occurrence of murders that take place in our world today, but in my personal opinion, I feel that the likes of ‘The Blair Witch Project’, ‘Paranormal Activity’, ‘Rec’ (2007) and ‘Insidious’ (2010, I know it’s not a documentary style film, but it being set in a family home goes along with what I am talking about. Plus it is an amazing film, I would highly recommend if you haven’t yet watched it) are also just as terrifying for the fact that they bring some peoples worst nightmares into what should be the happy and safe location of the family home. No one likes the thought of their home being invaded and their family members being threatened or even hurt by an uncontrollable force, and these fears are made so increasingly obvious through the protective stance that characters of the listed films go through during the unfolding events. While films like those I wrote about in my earlier post embody our fear of raging murderers on the bloodpath coming true, the films I have spoken about in this post can be seen as doing the same for our fear of our home being violated by something that we cannot control. Whether our homes are put at threat by burglars or even ghosts if any of you other there are believers in life after death, a nightmare that is shared by many of us, if not all, is our home and families being put at risk.
Whether you like them or not, it cannot be denied that those who make the films that manage to send a shiver down the spine of us scaredy cats out there, are pure geniuses in presenting a number of our everyday fears.