Like it or not “Paranormal Activity” is a juggernaut of a horror film franchise that won’t be stopping for a while. The original film was once another indie looking for distribution and seeking reviewers. I was one of the many online critics who was sent the film when director Oren Peli was seeking reviews for his press kit, and much to my shock, his small but terrifying ghost film became a box office smash only a year later.
“Paranormal Activity” succeeded thanks to its enigmatic story and found footage format as well as the rich acting by Katie Featherston and Micha Sloat. Since its release the films have become more layered, complex, and rich with mythos. With the impending release of the fourth film in the “Paranormal Activity” series, here are ten films that paved the way for Oren Peli’s little indie that could.
1. The Blair Witch Project
Before Viral Marketing was even called Viral Marketing, “The Blair Witch Project” owed much of its financial and critical success to the marketing that brewed up a tidal wave of curiosity, discussion, and anticipation from horror fans. “The Blair Witch Project” was a marvel of modern advertising for an independent film with a budget barely covering that of a normal snack tray at a Michael Bay set. Once just a blip on the cinematic radar, the word of mouth spread like wild fire, and the question of “The Blair Witch Project” being reality or fantasy transformed even the most skeptical movie goers in to packs of truth seekers who had to see for themselves what the Blair Witch was and how those three documentary filmmakers disappeared from the woods.
Even after star Heather Donahue appeared on talk shows insisting the film was fiction, fans and audiences still were convinced there was some semblance of truth, and “The Blair Witch” showed how the internet could be used as a powerful tool for film marketing, changing the face of film as a whole forever. “Paranormal Activity” relied on the same methods for box office success and triumphed.
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