This might be a textbook case of “waiting too long.”
Then again, I may underestimate the public's appetite for films in which characters run around while dramatic things you can almost see happen. I may be wrong. It may well be that people are actually still excited about “The new film from the director of 'Paranormal Activity.'” I suspect they're not, and that the moment for Oren Peli to release a second film should have been about five years ago, but Paramount Insurge is going to put it to the test when they finally, after long last, release “Area 51” in May.
If you aren't familiar with the title, aside from the cultural echoes associated with the name Area 51, that's not surprising. This was announced as the director's follow-up to “Paranormal Activity” six years ago, and getting information about it has been tough. I read an early treatment, and it was clear that the shoot was going to be a largely improvised affair built around some very carefully-designed set pieces. It's a pretty simple formula, all things considered. It's more like designing a haunted house than designing a regular movie, and Peli obviously has a strong sense of how to do that.
But in the time since Peli began work on this film, there have been so many found footage films and mockumentaries and first-person horror and whatever else you want to call this style of doing things. And i'm sure at least one of them has dealt with aliens. It's going to come down to how clever or well-executed the scares are, because at this point in the cycle, the mere idea isn't enough to get anyone excited.
Then again, I don't think Paramount Insurge and Blumhouse are expecting anything major from this at this point. They're just putting it out in a very few theatrical venues (it's a Drafthouse exclusive) while also dumping it to VOD. Seems like a really ignoble end to a six year process, but at least it's not gone completely.
What do you think? Still interested?
“Area 51” will be available on May 15, 2015.