Friday, February 1, 2008

Oh No, Not Again

There is this little horror film that was shown to rave reviews at the Slamdance Festival. Now, Dreamworks has picked it up, because everyone says it's a great scary film. I head on over to the official website to watch the trailer.

And now, having seen the trailer, I'm thinking, oh no, not another one of those.

Yes, Paranormal Activity is yet another mockumentary, complete with supposedly "real" footage and shaky cam. This right after Cloverfield. The reactions have been ridiculous and silly, with some calling it the best horror movie ever made. When a movie like Cloverfield is being hailed as the best monster movie ever made, you'd just have to take such ravings with a huge dollop of cleaning fluid.

The Blair Witch Project did it first and did it well. In hindsight now, that movie was way ahead of its time, made at a time when YouTube wasn't even an idea yet. Because of its nature, the mockumentary ideally shouldn't hold up believability for very long. Maybe by the third film made in such a style, people should wake up to reality already and find the effect deadening. But that is not what is happening right now. People are lapping it up, and it is beginning to seem like the mockumentary style is the way to go. A generation immersed in reality TV and YouTube videos would readily believe anything. How many times have we observed that an online video purported to be real turned out to be a hoax? (Like this one, for example.)

And so that culture has now seeped into the world of cinema and filmmaking. It probably sounds the death bell for good framing, shots and lighting, and provides the ultimate excuse for a badly shot film. Pretty soon, the considerations won't involve technical perfection or an approximate of it, but merely how to achieve maximum effect by throwing a scene right at the audience's face.

And that is a really sad development. Home videographers, hobbyists and YouTube enthusiasts can now look forward to careers in filmmaking and a chance to be recognised as pioneers of something or other.

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