Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman adapted to the particular demands of making a “Paranormal Activity” movie with real aplomb this year, working quickly on a demanding schedule and turning in a film that absolutely extended the life of what is becoming one of Paramount’s favorite franchises, teeny tiny cheap little movies that earn giant bags of cash for the studio each year.
So why wouldn’t Paramount want to bring them back for another one? After all, they’ve demonstrated that they understand the rhythms of the series, and that they have a head for the increasingly-complicated mythology that is evolving from film to film. I talked to them this year about their work on the film, and they described the process to me as something that was difficult but also really exciting and fun, and it resulted in a movie that I think works very well.
One of the things some people griped about was that the trailers for “Paranormal Activity 3” showed a lot of material that was not in the final cut. Alternates takes, different staging of something, sometimes different people but the same scene. It was like there were two different films hey were cutting to, which was true in a way. As they described it, they shot the film all the way through one time, then cut it, looked at it, and decided what they would want to do to it. They went back for round two of shooting, and then cut that, using some of the round one footage, some of the round two footage, and then looked at that. Then, finally, one more round of shooting and cutting and they had the final film.
Shooting fast and cheap like this and improvising and inventing on the fly… this is a great luxury they’re giving these guys. The lack of money in the budget is a help in this case because they can afford to do extra days when the days cost so little. They can indulge this sort of timetable because they don’t have complicated 80 day shoots each time with giant cast and crew logistics.
I admire the “Paranormal Activity” films both creatively and commercially. I think they are a smart 21st Century-spin on a walk-through haunted house, and it’s a franchise that is built to keep on giving each and every year as long as Paramount keeps making decent movies.
No word yet on which time they’ll set the film in or which cast is returning or where it all fits together, but even with these deals just coming together, it feels like we’ll be seeing the finished film in no time at all.
“Paranormal Activity 4” will be in theaters October 19, 2012.