Movies are subjective, I get it. Especially when it comes to horror, a genre designed to provoke feeling more than thought. Yet, there are certain movies that seem to unite most horror fans, or at least seem to be examples of what a good scary movie should be, and so I'm occasionally surprised when fandom turns on them.
I'm not saying this is the case with Paranormal Activity. But I have noticed a bit of a backlash since the movie went into wide release not long ago. What started as a cult, word-of-mouth phenomenon has now gone mainstream. And so far, I've been sensing more negativity than I expected with regards to this amazing little film.
Inevitably, when an indy horror movie attracts a mainstream audience, there is bound to be a lot of disappointment. To put it plainly, most people are not horror movie fans, or at least fans of good horror movies. Show them a psychological spine-tingler, and they'll rail that it doesn't have a knife-wielding maniac running around chopping up teenagers. So that's part of the backlash, I suppose, these horror philistines expecting something far different than what the movie actually is.
But what I'm even more amazed by is the rising backlash amongst the horror community itself. Look, I'm not trying to say either you like the same movies I like, or you don't know what you're taling about. I guess I'm blinded by my own tastes to a certain extent, but I'm a bit confused at how those who truly appreciate horror could not have gotten a kick out of this movie.
Specific case in point: Rue Morgue Editor-in-Chief Jovanka Vukovic. I was highly surprised to learn that the editrix of the world's finest horror magazine was bashing Paranormal Activity. I know she's also gone on record as not liking Blair Witch Project--but frankly, so have I. Nevertheless, I found P.A. to be a far superior film, and was saddened to find that she had lumped it in the same category.
I had to wonder, will Rue Morgue be devoting an entire issue to the tenth anniversary of Paranormal Activity in 2019, as it recently did for BWP? Despite the fact that the Editor-in-Chief thinks it's a piece of garbage? Sorry, I know it sounds like sour grapes, but I can't help but get annoyed at the hypocrisy of celebrating a movie you admit to thinking is no good, and then publicly bashing a movie that does the same thing, only way better, right after the celebratory issue comes out.
Paranormal Activity is that rarest of things: a horror film that is actually extremely frightening. When one of those comes along, we have to cherish it, we have to shout it from the mountaintops. I guess people are going to like what they're going to like, but the notion of subjectivity in art only goes so far. After all, there are certain things that are commonly agreed upon. For example, anyone who tells you The Godfather is a terrible movie is a complete moron--I think we can all agree on that. Well, I can't help but be confused by anyone who tells me Paranormal Activity was no good or ineffective.
If you're going to tell me you didn't like it, at least have a well-thought out explanation of why. I can respect that. Not everyone has the same tastes in horror. Just don't be one of those people who tries to tell me that things like the new Prom Night or Friday the 13th are great horror movies and offer no explanation as to why P.A. didn't do it for them. Are you really looking to be scared? Or do you just get a kick out of violence? Those are two different things. I can appreciate both, but I am baffled when someone tells me that P.A. was not scary. Then what, by all the gods, is?? One Missed Call?
Again, let me reiterate that the vast majority of the reaction to this film has been positive. I just can't help but lose my cool A) when casual non-horror fans trash something that clearly wasn't meant for them in the first place, and B) when a major voice in the world of horror journalism seems to be so completely off-base, and yes, even a little hypocritical.
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