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‘Paranormal Activity’ Director Oren Peli on Why He Doesn’t Make Movies Anymore

After the smash hit, franchise-spawning success of low-budget indie Paranormal Activity, you may have expected that director Oren Peli was going to become the new hottest name in horror. And yet, despite Peli producing a host of films including Insidious and The Lords of Salem, he’s only actually directed one other movie in the past ten years.

That film, Area 51, came and went with very little fanfare back in 2015.

Speaking with Mick Garris for today’s new episode of the podcast Post Mortem, Peli revealed why he hasn’t done much directing since Paranormal Activity.

I kind of wanted to just kind of cash out and be done [after Paranormal Activity],” Peli explained. “I got sucked into [producing] the Paranormal Activity sequels, then I had lunch with Steven Spielberg and he said, ‘Let’s do a TV show together.’ And we did The River. I kind of kept having different opportunities to get me sucked back in. And then I thought, ‘Yeah, I could find something to direct.’ I got sent a lot of scripts. There was one I really loved called Eliza Graves. It ended up being a whole big legal mess and the project fell through.”

Peli explained to Garris that after several film projects fell apart and his girlfriend became pregnant, he made the decision to step away from filmmaking entirely – he even turned down the offer to direct The Conjuring, he revealed during the chat.

To this day, Peli seems to have very little interest in going back to the stressful, miserable nightmare, as he describes, that filmmaking can often end up being.

At this point, I would have to be incredibly bored,” he added. “But I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I would have to love something so much that I’m gonna give up my peaceful life now, and go back to the crazy world of directing. I’m very happy not to have to deal with [that] these days.”



  • Necro

    Gotta say that I respect that! Most would just do one shit film after another just for quick cash grabs regardless if it’s a “nightmare job” at times. I’m not saying he would’ve done shit movies either, it’s just ‘Paranormal Activity’ was huge and the budget was low and boy did he get paid! I like to KIND OF think of it like if ‘The Blair Witch Project’ never existed, this would’ve been that film. The two films are similar in their own rights. But as a fan I like that cuz it’s the right and respectful thing to do especially if his heart isn’t in it. I mean you know you’ve arrived when you’re having lunch with Spielberg and he asks you to do something with him.

    • At least Oren Peli is being honest about this and pretty much walked away while producer Jason Blum moved on to literally much bigger(and extremely successful) things.

      • Forca84

        Agreed. I hope Peli is happy with what he’s doing now.

      • Necro

        Yep that’s why I respect his decision.

  • zombie84_41

    good choice dude. I don’t think directing was for him anyways. His movies weren’t good at all. Didn’t he do that chernobyl diarys also ?

    • Forca84

      He did. I didn’t hate “Chernobyl Diaries” tho.

      • zombie84_41

        yeah that movie was cool. I hated paranormal and area 51 I can’t even remember so I prob didn’t like that.

        • Forca84

          Haven’t seen “Area 51” but heard a lot of meh comments. I might watch it one day.

          • zombie84_41

            prob is meh lol

      • ChinoX813

        I thought Chernobyl was the worst one. I could at least deal with the original paranormal, but Chernobyl almost syfy channel, Asylum level bad.

        • Forca84

          To each their own. I loath “Paranormal Activity”. I felt they got better as they progressed. Part 1 was just soo overhyped and boring to me. I get it has to start somewhere but it was very underwhelming for me.

    • Kim ‘Kimppade’ Ibsen

      He produced chernobyl diaries, not
      directed if that’s what you meant

      • zombie84_41

        ya my bad lol. but he did do a good job producing that. The river was ok but it had a stupid ending

        • Kim ‘Kimppade’ Ibsen

          Good producer, meh director

          • zombie84_41

            yeah he does produce a lot of solid movies. I wish he stick to that.

    • Khy

      I enjoyed Chernobyl. I liked that it was “found footage” inspired without exactly being found footage so they weren’t held down by the limitations of that genre. If Friday or some other slasher really did go that route I’d at least want it to be like Chernoyble in set-up.

      • DukeStKing

        My thoughts exactly. Thoroughly enjoyed Chernobyl.

      • zombie84_41

        yeah foubd footage movies are dumb lol. Like in reality im
        not holding a camera as my friends are getting killed lol or some crazy crap is going down. Im getting out of there.

    • Rick Leonardi

      He didn’t have any directing chops and probably zero clue how to direct real actors so props to him realizing he should stick to other stuff.

      • zombie84_41

        agreed. Ya sometimes directing isnt for everyone it isnt easy at all.

      • Satanzilla

        Yeah um, wrong. He directed a movie much tenser and more frightening than more famous directors with much bigger budgets are capable of.

      • joeybot

        Cool, a nobody is talking about the chops of a guy who made a huge hit out of nothing. Tell us more, Rick!

    • Shay

      Can’t even front I liked chenorbyl well Wen I first seen it I was disappointed cause they hyped it all up but the more I watched it the more it grew on me disappointment: umm those creatures I felt I couldn’t see so well wish they did better close ups of them. The River I instantly madly wanted to watch didn’t get a chance so I guess I’ll have 2 buy it !!! As for P.A. (same) way-way too hyped but I’m a horror movie fan so it’s just like other movie genres u no Wen u watch a movie then u watch it again and again each time u pick up something u didn’t notice the 2nd or even 3rd time around specially if maybe the movie is fast- paced or there’s alot going on or cud swing the other pendrum movie cud b slow n losing ur interest where u tend to continue 2 watch but ur mind is wanderin’ like la la land. lol!! I no I’ve been there done that numerous times! then come find out I actually liked the movie just had to get in the groove of it @ times. I’ll say this horror movie is soooo stupid watching the ppl running upstairs instead out the door but yet I’m all up in it haha idk !!!

      • Shay

        Also wanted to say kudos!!!! to Peli hey if u wanna do sumthing, do it! if u don’t then no fuss! ppl always gunna h8 or say sumthing dumb but if it’s not his passion then I totally understand. We wouldn’t want ppl making us do ish we weren’t totally really feeling. I no he’s got fans but gotta do wat makes u happy first. Remember every body ur num 1 so put 1 first nuttin wrong wit helping others and stuff I’m happy 4 him putting his fam first and wanting and loving to do that I truly believe his wife or gf not exactly sure but I think if he said hun I still wanna direct then I think she prob would of supported his feelings! but him being honest. That takes alot!! Anything and alot we do is hard working. That’s wat we strive and put out there ,and in return those blood sweat ‘n’ tears will hopefully pay off.He’s content and happiness is the ultimate goal and is a gift so I think he just knew and that’s awesome. God has blessed him and that’s a kool mega-huge feeling. And who no’s we might see his name again maybe returning to horror!!!! or sumthing else. Peace ‘n’ luv!

      • zombie84_41

        right like lets make a chair move lol. but im not going to lie number 2 was really creepy. The river was meh i wouldnt waste my money buying it see if you can find it skmewhere to watch first before buying unless you can find it cheap

  • Josh Anhalt

    I wish Netflix could nab the rights to The River. Other than commercial breaks killing the tension and fear, I loved that show!

    • Mayday

      I think that ship has passed, but I always wanted to see where the story was heading. Had it been on HBO/Netflix, it could have really lived up to its potential.

  • Khy

    Well not everyone wants to remain a director or actor. People have lives outside of Hollywood. I say that because you will have people calling him a “loser” or yacking about him not doing anything professional after PA. Some people are just fine not being the next “It” person.

    The River had potential- but I think it was too ahead of its time and so not the best Network. Should’ve been a Netflix show. I also wasn’t a fan of the found footage or at least it should’ve been a mixture.

  • Biscoito18

    I loved his honesty here.

  • RedNeoCon

    Dude cashed out…….who wouldn’t?

    • DrCakewalk

      Lots of people.

  • Jay Brezzy

    Love his honest response. Looking it up, he’s worth about 23mil. Who wouldn’t want to relax and ride off into the sunset?

    I thought the focus was to work till a point where you didn’t have to anymore. He’s been there for some time now.

    I would rather have a guy hang it up instead of hold on too long.

  • DukeStKing

    Good for him.

  • FeministFriendly

    I can see how hollywood might be too intolerable to tolerate.
    Just the hypocrisy and the backstabbing and the arrogance and the cruelty…
    I can also see how some people could still find it worth it for the fame and the fortune and the power and the glamour if your lucky enough for it to work out.

    But with affordable technology today I would think that its more possible then ever to make a movie without having to be part of the hollywood system.

    Roger Avery’s Rules of Attraction is a horribly disturbing movie,
    more terrifying then any Zombie flick, becasue its true.
    But it LOOKS fantastic.

    Its crisp, artfully edited.
    And apparently he was able to do this in Final cut Pro on an Apple.
    Sure all the millions of dollars of jj abrams CGI is popular with mainstream audiences,
    but it doesn’t make a better movie.

    And if you made something sufficiently fullfilling and creative,
    there must be outlets like netflix or amazon or youtube to get it seen and even monetize it.
    Without hollywood or the traditional media and the abuse that comes from the privilege of a monopoly.

  • Anthony DeRouen

    I’ve done three short films so far. From my experience the hardest part so far has been working with prima donna actors who haven’t accomplished anything but a few speaking lines as second fiddle roles, but feel they should be treated like Brad Pitt on your set. This wears you out far more than anything else and forces you to vet actors better going forward. Everything else is cake.

  • MarciaN

    I’ve been acting in movies in the US and Europe for over 20 years now and by god I would never want to direct the offer to direct twice and said HELL NO

  • evilED

    Peli is also loaded. I think he’s worth around $30 million+. So yeah, why bother?

  • Jon Pettipas

    If anyone is Interested, Eliza Graves ended up being made as Stonehearst Asylum….

  • Jê Fernando

    Ola. Grupo destinado a debates sobre filmes, series, jogos e assuntos polêmicos. Faça amizades. Saiba a programação do cinema com criticas/opiniões.

  • If he was only in it for the money anyways, I’m glad he got out.

  • Doc Jeremic

    I wish I had his offers

  • Gabbi Cordero

    hmmm it couldn’t have been because he laughed all the way to bank and cashed out before anyone became wise to the fact that he was a talentless hack of a one hit wonder. “new hottest name in horror” yeah because that went swimmingly for eli roth and shyamalan. i swear everytime genre insiders are ready to name a successor to the crown, they end up with a pretender to the throne

    • joeybot

      Be quiet, fatty.

      • Gabbi Cordero

        Fatty? Your insults are as oafish as your IQ. I realize with winter break your ADHD has probably kicked into overdrive but if you don’t have a point to make let alone a thought in you walnut sized brain, kindly sit in a corner and stare at the wall

        • joeybot

          Good one, fuckface.

  • Evan3

    What a hilarious tale. Who hear doesn’t dream of a smash hit with some legit scares, meetings with Spielberg, and so many opportunities…. and doesn’t care. Love his forthrightness.

    I would have loved to hear him talk about how he decided on Area 51 for his sole encore.

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