Dear friend,

this week saw a return to watching a horror film every day, I guess to avoid thinking of the scary outcome of the European Elections:

  • When Evil Lurks/Cuando acecha la maldad external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. written and directed by Demián Rugna, Argentina, 2023: yes, the first film I saw this week is the last one I saw last week. That’s because there was a plot point that left me a bit perplexed, so, taking advantage of the 48-hour rental period, I started watching this movie again to see if I had missed something… and I stayed until the end. And yes, the plot got much clearer the second time around ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. written and directed by Christopher Landon, US, 2014: the screenwriter of the previous three instalments directs this one, and it’s a big disappointment. None of the wit and fun that will come with Happy Death Day and Freaky are present here. I understand why PATMO is sometimes categorised as a spin-off of the main series: different setting, different characters, but also a different experience altogether; Paranormal Activity used to be about cameras installed in a house. This one is just ‘found footage’ shot by people who never let go of their recording device.  Still, it’s desperate to reconnect with the past episodes, but it does it in the most nonsensical and disappointing way. Few (if any) scares at all, awful treatment of a dog. Loud music scares that contradict the ‘found footage’ concept. One thing I liked: using of a Simon external link to Wikipedia electronic game (a retro counterpoint to PA4’s Microsoft Kinect) as a replacement for the trite ouija board. I’m sure many parents in the ’80s thought the device was a work of the devil ⭐️½

  • Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Gregory Plotkin, US, 2015: it turns out, Tobi was Venom all along! Landon skips this one and leaves the helm to the series’ editor (who will also work on Game Night and Get Out), while screenwriting duties pass to four writers (including Deborah Logan and Escape Room’s Adam Robitel). This one goes back to the main plot, starts with the end of episode 3 and continues the young sisters’ story (dismantling whatever hope there was that the sisters’ discussions in PA2 could still make sense within the main continuity) as well as moving forward in parallel with new characters. This one feels more like a standard horror film, introducing stock characters such as Attractive Blonde With No Reason To Be There and Exorcist Priest, as well as a magical camera that can actually show the stringy demon. At least, it tries to explain what the point of kidnapping Hunter in PA2 was. But how dare you not have Katie Featherston in what is supposed to be the last part of the story? ⭐️⭐️

  • Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by William Eubank, US, 2021: fine, let’s finish this. But, this film has no link whatsoever with the rest of the series. I guess Christopher Landon was bored during the Covid lockdown, so he wrote a folk horror script. Then I suppose that’s what happened:

    • Christopher Landon: ‘Hey, Jason Blum, I have a new script! Would you like to produce it?
    • Jason Blum: ‘Sure Chris! But… can we attach it to any of your existing franchises? Could it be Happy Death Day 3?’
    • Christopher Landon: ‘Ehm, I don’t think so’
    • Jason Blum: ‘Too bad… can we turn it into a Paranormal Activity?’
    • Christopher Landon: ‘Uh, I suppose we could turn it into a found footage film’

      I think that I, personally, am more of a next of kin of Paranormal Activity than this film is. But I love a good folk horror movie, and its last ten minutes are complete madness (in a good way), so I’m more positive about it than I am about most of the PA family members. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Terrified/Aterrados external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. (please note that the Letterboxd page shows the quite upsetting poster and an even more upsetting spoiler image) written and directed by Demián Rugna, Argentina, 2017: I usually try and celebrate the beginning and the end of the week-end by watching something different, so my Friday night treat was the other film Rugna is known for. Very different from When Evil Lurks, this film follows the police and three experts investigating strange happenings (you could say, paranormal activities) in a neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. This one is very strong at the beginning, when it presents the three scary events, but then becomes less compelling trying to tie them up in a consistent story. Still, it’s worth watching for the very upsetting initial set pieces. Oh and there’s a jump scare in Smile (2022) that has nothing to do with the rest of that film, but is so similar to one scene here that I’ll assume that’s what inspired it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • The Omen external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Richard Donner, US/UK, 1976: David Seltzer and Richard Donner’s film doesn’t need any introduction. I had watched it before, and it had been completely spoiled to me by a classmate in middle school, but this time I liked it so much that I’m willing to turn a blind eye to some weird ‘Italian’ characters having a thicker English accent than Gregory Peck, and a Cerveteri external link to Wikipedia that looks straight out of a Hammer film. Anyway, I’m not sure that if you trust strangers so blindly you are a good fit to aspire to be President of the United States. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • You Won’t Be Alone external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. written and directed by Goran Stolevski, Australia (or should it be Eastern Europe?), 2022: in a village in the Balkans in the 19th century, a woman begs a witch to spare the life of her newborn daughter, promising in exchange that she can take her as a servant when she turns 16; when the time comes, the young woman tries to make the most of her new life. I keep a note on my phone to quickly write down titles recommended by podcasts, and usually not only do I forget about those films, but also about the note itself. So when I found this title, I had no idea of what it was about, nor who suggested it. The poster and the marketing material are focused on Noomi Rapace, but it turns out that she’s not the lead actress, and the film’s language is, apparently, Macedonian. After twenty minutes or so of disorientation (for various legitimate reasons, even the English subtitles are not that straightforward in explaining what’s going on), what emerged was a beautiful and poetic film, exploring one’s need to find their place in the world, and the importance of both one’s attitude and ability to adapt in the process. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

In summary:

  • 7 horror films (loosely horror in the case of the last one), 4 of which are Americans (though one is half-British), 2 are Argentinians and one that’s officially Australian but actually from North Macedonia
  • 4 original stories, 3 sequels
  • 5 first watches, 2 re-watches

Film-of-the-week is You Won’t Be Alone (I’ve decided that re-watches shouldn’t count for film of the week).