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Possible directors of 'Paranormal Activity 2': Several young genre maestros ... and Brian De Palma

February 24, 2010 |  7:25 pm

Para
When it comes to "Paranormal Activity," nothing should surprise us anymore. This was a movie that was shot for $10,000 and became a $100-million-plus box-office powerhouse. And it did all that with no stars and no brand pedigree -- just a brilliant "America demanded it" marketing campaign.

So the fact that a number of emerging genre directors are being considered to direct the second picture in the haunted-house franchise (tentatively titled "Paranormal Activity 2" but probably soon to be renamed)  makes perfect sense.

More eerie, though, is that the studio is now seriously considering a trio of more experienced directors. And one of them is a person who'll really get your weird-o-meter spinning: Brian De Palma.

Yes, that Brian De Palma.

The iconic auteur behind "Scarface" and "Dressed to Kill" -- as well as more mainstream films like "The Untouchables"' and "Mission: Impossible" -- would be a strange choice to say the least. No doubt he'll bring art-house credibility and visual flair. But De Palma is known for shoots that don't always go for the lowest common denominator at the multiplex, that aren't always cheap (though his last movie, the Iraq film "Redacted," was a lower-budgeted affair) and a shooting schedule that doesn't scream quick turnaround.

(And if you think De Palma would be a bizarre choice, consider this: At one point, Akiva Goldsman, a quintessential Hollywood insider, was also in the mix to direct the film. Goldsman is the Oscar-winning writer "A Beautiful Mind." He's also the writer and/or producer on a host of big-budget studio movies, including "The Da Vinci Code" and "I Am Legend." He won't direct the film in the end, but the fact that Paramount and the movie's producers were considering him suggests they want to give the film a different kind of gloss than the no-budget, unknown-driven first picture.)

Of course there's a logic to that sort of thinking: Oren Peli's original "Paranormal," which had few auterish touches, could, in the wrong hands, yield a low-end sequel (think "Blair Witch 2: Book of Secrets"). If nothing else, De Palma would elevate the level of filmmaking from what a less experienced director might do.

As for the young genre directors, they include a more Peli-ish group of freshmen and sophomores: Brad Anderson (director of a Woody Harrelson-Emily Mortimer thriller a few years back called "Transsiberian") and Greg McLean (a writer and director on an Australian horror movie called "Wolf Creek" -- another low-budget title that made a nice multiple, $16 million in U.S. box office).

All this is happening because "Saw VI" director Kevin Greutert won't direct the new "Paranormal." The horror filmmaker had been all set to sit in that tall chair until Lionsgate decided to exercise its option on him for the next "Saw" film (a direct competitor at the box office with "Paranormal"), pulling him off "Paranormal 2."

Whatever producers and Paramount executives decide to do, they'll probably want to do it quickly. The movie doesn't yet have a director or actors (they'd need at least one new one, given how the first ended), and, last we heard, the script was still being worked on. But it does have a release date -- exactly eight months from now, on Oct. 22, just before Halloween. This is where a little supernatural magic might come in handy.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Paranormal Activity. Credit: Paramount Pictures


 
Comments () | Archives (8)

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Zeitchik writes: "Oren Peli's original "Paranormal" ... had few auterish touches". Does Zeitchik have any understanding of the auteur theory?

"Paranormal Activity" -- conceived, directed and edited by a single filmmaker with a distinctive vision, process and style -- is about as pure an auteurist expression as one is likely to encounter. Though most of the press has written only about the film's financial success, its artistic achievement was to bring the aesthetic delights of Dogme 95 to a mass audience, and to use the rigor of minimalism to heighten the emotional effectiveness and believability of a classic ghost story.

Whoever directs the sequel has a tough row to hoe; but it is no surprise that a visual master like De Palma would be attracted to creative challenge of further exploring the possibilities of handycam verisimilitude.

Actually, I think you have it backwards. Instead of making BLAIR WITCH 2 the same way the first film was made, they decided to go upscale and upbudget and hire a critically acclaimed arthouse documentary director... and instead of making a film that worked like the original BLAIR they made a slick Hollywood movie that was the opposite of what made BLAIR successful...

And here they are doing the exact same thing again. Going upscale in director and upbudget.

The smart thing would have been to give the original director another $15k.

The BLAIR guys went on to make a great flick - DELIVERANCE with aliens - called ALTERED. Every actor I know in town has seen it because it has big meaty drama scenes.

Just a friendly correction, the sequel to "The Blair Witch Project" is "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2."

On the subject of Brian De Palma, let's not forget that he is no stranger to horror, suspense and the altogether strange. Those are his roots, what with "Sisters," "Carrie," "Phantom of the Paradise," "The Fury," "Obsession," "Dressed to Kill" and "Body Double" under his belt I would say he quite knows his way around these areas. It would actually be refreshing to see him return to the horror genre and try something new with a supernatural tale.

Just a friendly correction, the sequel to "The Blair Witch Project" is "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2."

On the subject of Brian De Palma, let's not forget that he is no stranger to horror, suspense and the altogether strange. Those are his roots, what with "Sisters," "Carrie," "Phantom of the Paradise," "The Fury," "Obsession," "Dressed to Kill" and "Body Double" under his belt I would say he quite knows his way around these areas. It would actually be refreshing to see him return to the horror genre and try something new with a supernatural tale.

If De Palma makes P2 it will attract a wider audience then just the horror fans. De Palma's craftsmanship will pull in fans from outside this particular horror demographic. If the studio goes with a lesser director then Paramount should only expect the audience that went to the original. No one assembles shots and moves the camera better then De Palma. De Palma would be going back to his roots in the 70's where he directed some of the best horror in pics such as SISTERS, CARRIE and his sci-fi spy chiller THE FURY. With De Palma being such a visual master of the horror genre P2 will demolish any SAW movie directed by directors who will disappear off the map of cinema in no short time at all. De Palma is the only way to go with this particular genre.

This movie was awsome!!! I was so scared!! OMG!!! was all that real? I give this movie an A+++. The scariest movie ive ever seen. I will be hoping to find out more about this movie, and i am hoping to see the sequal!!!!

man my frinds r so scared im doin some reseach

i think they movies are stuiped it just try to scared u


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