Having been one of the catalysts behind the film’s success, Bloody Disgusting and Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli go way back. We’ve chatted it up on many occasions, which is why I know that he’s one of the most difficult interviews on the planet. It doesn’t help that the demonic franchise is shrouded in secrecy.
With Paranormal Activity 3 arriving in theaters tonight at midnight, I believe I did a pretty solid job this time around in getting Peli to reveal some insight into the latest scarefest and how the decisions were made. Get the dirt inside and return on opening weekend to write your reviews to tell Paramount and the filmmakers what YOU thought. Early in the conversation Peli explained to us how Catfish co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman came aboard the project.
“We are all fans of ‘Catfish’ and thought that Ariel and Henry have a great sense of pacing, suspense, and realism,” said Peli. “We loved the look and feel of ‘Catfish’ and felt confident their skills would be perfect for ‘PA3’.”
When you guys have the opportunity to see PA3 you’re going to be surprised as to how much MORE happens than in the previous sequel. Peli tells us that the fans are a big part of the decision making process. He tells us, “We always listen to the fans…they’re the main reason the franchise keeps going!”
One of the coolest “new” additions to the franchise is that of a custom made “fan cam” – a camera attached to the base of a fan to pan left and right. Peli explains to us how this was used to create tension.
“We are very proud of the fan-cam!” says an excited Peli. “It’s a new type of camera that was never used before in the ‘Paranormal’ movies – or any other movie that I’m aware of – and is perfect for creating uneasy tension as it slowly reveals new parts of the house, making the audience wonder what might be revealed any second.”
Speaking of new additions, PA3 is jam-packed with memorable moments. Peli speaks on leaving an imprint with the audience.
“We certainly think that there are a few scenes that will be remembered forever by the fans,” Peli explains. “Much like Katie getting dragged out of bed in ‘PA1’, and the kitchen cabinets blowing open in ‘PA2’, there are a few fantastic scares, and a couple of major “what-the-fuck-is-going-on-here” moments in ‘PA3’.” Speaking on the rewards of the fruits of his labor, “ It’s very rewarding to hear fans speak of their favorite scenes months – or years – after watching the film.”
Paranormal Activity 3 takes viewers back to 1988, Peli talks on where the idea came from and how the tapes are “introduced”.
“The backstory of the girls was mentioned in ‘PA1’ when Katie talked about the haunting starting when she was 8 so it felt natural,” he continues, “and we did drop a couple hints about this in ‘PA2’, although we weren’t really thinking about ‘PA3’ when making ‘PA2’.
“It also seemed fun and creepy – a found footage horror movie that takes places in the ’80s, centering around two little girls haunted by a demon!” an excited Peli adds also noting that it wasn’t easy introducing said tapes: “Yes, we tried a few different ways to introduce the tapes. It wasn’t easy.”
The secret is already out that most of the footage in the trailers and spots are NOT included in the final product. Peli tells us how the Paranormal films are a “living” process.
“As we shoot these films, we experiment with a lot of different ideas and scares. The best ones make it into the final product, but a few that get cut out, do make it sometimes into the trailer.” When asked about the fire sequence referenced in the first film that is displayed in the trailers (and not in the movie) Peli shut us down: “I’m gonna take the fifth on that one – don’t want to spoil anything!”
Being that the Paranormal films are some of the scariest in the history of cinema, Peli has earned the street cred to tell YOU how to “create a scare.” We asked him what he’d tell upcoming filmmakers.
“I think the key is timing – to patiently build-up the tension,” said Peli. “For that to work, you also need to have the audience in a tense state of mind – that happens as you build up the story and set-up the scenario. Then, you can have the scare and tension keep building up on top of one another as the story progresses.”
Checking up on the rumored “handful” of alternate endings for the first PA, Peli is still unsure if we’ll ever see them all.
Lastly, with Saw ending with a seventh film, we asked Peli if he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It sounds as if it’s up to you guys to keep the legend alive…
“We are not thinking beyond ‘PA3’ at the moment,” said Peli. “We already take it one movie at a time. If the film is successful and the fans want more, we could see if it makes sense to make another one IF we have a great idea. Of course, we’re going to keep everything a secret until the very last moment!” he jokes rounding out the interview beautifully.
Paranormal Activity 3 hits theaters at midnight tonight!