Reel Rumbles #7: “Zombieland” vs. “Paranormal Activity”

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1 Response

  1. Travis McClain says:

    I, too, walked into “Paranormal Activity” conscious of “The Blair Witch Project” just as I had “Shaun of the Dead” in mind during “Zombieland.” I left “Paranormal” feeling it had obliterated “Blair Witch,” but that “Zombieland” hadn’t quite reached the bar that “Shaun” had raised. Subsequent viewings of both films over the last year–as well as seeing the sequel to “Paranormal Activity” tonight–has led me to a few conclusions.

    Firstly, I was wrong about “Zombieland.” It gets better with each viewing, the way every classic cult film does. The jokes are somehow funnier when you know they’re coming; the dialog isn’t mere exposition, but exists as an art unto itself. If push comes to shove I’m still picking “Shaun of the Dead” over “Zombieland,” but it’s much closer than I initially felt.

    Secondly, “Paranormal Activity” may just be the pinnacle of guerrilla horror. I know genre fans will jump me for that, as “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is largely considered the be-all, end-all in that milieu. But I watched “Paranormal” last year with a rapt audience, where seemingly everyone held their breath at the same moment, gasped, shrieked, squirmed…and then those moments were frequently followed by waves of self-conscious, embarrassed laughter. Its sequel was clever, but felt like a studio production; it’s not as organic as its predecessor. For my money, it’s further evidence that Oren Peli caught lightning in a bottle with his feature debut.

    I would rather re-watch “Zombieland” on any given night, but I have to tip my hat to “Paranormal Activity” for accomplishing what it did–with so little, no less–and being one of the bona fide gems of the last decade of cinema.