Afraid to go to sleep – Paranormal Activity hits US cinemas
It’s the surprise hit of the year. Audiences across the US are afraid to go to sleep after watching a horror film made by Israeli filmmaker Oren Peli. The low budget movie reportedly cost just $11,000 to produce, but reviewers are calling it the most scary film ever made. Think Blair Witch Project, only worse.
The movie, Paranormal Activity , was filmed in 2006 over a seven-day period. It was set in Peli’s own suburban tract home with a crew of just three including his then-girlfriend Toni Taylor, and best friend (also Israeli) Amir Zbeda.
The film was released in fewer than 200 theaters, but raked in $7.1 million in one weekend – a record for a limited release film.
The film, about a couple who think their house is haunted, has now been picked up by Paramount Pictures . It bills itself as “the first-ever major film release demanded by you.”
Peli is not your usual blockbuster movie type director. He dropped out of school at 16, to set up his own software company. Three years later he immigrated to the US with Zbeda and began work developing animation and video game programs.
He got the idea for the film when he moved into a new home and found the sudden quiet of suburbia disturbing. The house was new and still settling, and at night he could hear the house shifting and groaning.
He wrote a script, fixed up his house a bit, held a casting session in Hollywood, and hey presto, shot a movie. He edited it on his own home PC, and then submitted it to Screamfest – a boutique festival for cult horror in LA.
The film was released in September with limited late-night showings at just 13 college towns, but the ball started rolling and the film became a web sensation on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Critics also jumped on board giving excellent reviews.
Originally Paramount planned to reshoot the film with better-known actors, but studio heads – including Steven Spielberg – decided it could stand as it was, with only a few tweaks.
Peli is now onto his next movie, a thriller called Area 51, but in the meantime Paramount Pictures releases Paranormal Activity at cinemas across the US on Friday. Get ready for some sleepless nights.