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[Remember This?] Oren Peli’s ‘Area 51’?

Hot off the success of Paranormal Activity, director Oren Peli embarked on his second outing behind the camera, Area 51. That was four years ago.

Isn’t it strange that the above paragraph could easily be the opening crawl for its own found footage movie? Of course, Oren Peli didn’t disappear. Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4 have since been released (he was involved with all of them to varying degrees). He’s had a big network TV show, “The River.” He wrote and produced The Chernobyl Diaries and he’s also a producer on Rob Zombie’s upcoming Lords Of Salem.

His producing partner on Area 51 (and the PA films), Jason Blum, recently had some massive success with Insidious and Sinister and is currently shooting Insidious: Chapter 2. Back in 2011 Blum went on record about the project and the duo’s very busy dance card seemed to be interfering a bit with its release, “Area 51′ is like ‘Paranormal Activity’. The additional photography for ‘PA’, we went back 50 times. The great thing about doing extra shooting for inexpensive movies is that the cost is low, so we screen and shoot and screen and shoot. Oren and I were pulled away from ‘Area 51′ a lot for the second ‘PA’. Once that came out, we ramped up on ‘Area 51′ again. I anticipate the movie will be mostly done in about three or four months.

Those three or four months have come and gone. So… what do we know about the film?

Well, we know it stars Reid Warner, Darrin Bragg, and Ben Rovner. And that Peli uses the found footage conceit to tell the story of “three teens whose curiosity leads them to the notorious Area 51 portion of Nellis Air Force Base in the Nevada desert.” Apparently the film didn’t test through the roof (something Blum sort of acknowledges in the quote above), but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. Lots of films don’t play for test audiences but wind up doing perfectly well.

Could it be that Area 51 simply shares too much narrative proximity with Peli’s own Chernobyl Diaries? After all, it is about a group of teens headed to a remote, barren environment that’s the site of some sort of government calamity. Is Paramount waiting for Chernobyl to cool to half-life before scheduling a release? Maybe.

In April of 2011 BD learned that director/actor Chris Denham (who apparently produced some documentaries on Cambodia and Thailand) had been hired by Paramount to shoot some additional footage for the film. Which means that the test screening of Area 51 that I was accidentally invited to (but did not attend) in September of 2011 would have incorporated his footage.

I haven’t heard anything out of that test screening, and quotes on the film from Peli and Blum from after that time period are hard to come by. So my honest question is, “where is it?” I think it’s important to note, again, that troubled productions aren’t necessarily bad ones. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes delays are just delays. Though, of course, it’s hard to tame suspicions when the delays and silence around it are this significant.

But that will all be settled when the film gets a proper release. I’m not out to assassinate something I haven’t been exposed to a single frame of. I’m not saying it’s good and I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m just saying I want to see it. Have any of you?



  • ihearthorror

    It’s frustrating because I’ll hear about these movies coming out, save them in a watch list and check back only to find they’ve still not been released. Like what ever happen to the Re-Kill movie?

    If you know, please like my page on FB and let us horror junkies know

    • djblack1313

      ihearthorror, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      i’m STILL fucking anxiously waiting for a RE-KILL release!!!!
      it was released in the UK i believe and Evan (from this site) checked with the AfterDark people and there was talk of a February release but that clearly isn’t going to happen.

      RELEASE THESE FUCKING MOVIES OR TORRENTS WILL BECOME MORE AND MORE IMPORTANT!! Evan i know you don’t like the “T” talk used on this site but….

      • EvanDickson

        @djblack1313 I’ll follow up again. In most cases there are reasonable answers for delays

        • Aaron Emery

          I have been waiting on RE-KILL going only by the synopses only, up until five minutes ago I had no idea there was a 6.5 minute trailer for it. I mean, it’s obviously no masterpiece but it looks like some promising B movie fun… I still want to know why it was only 1 out of 8 films with the AfterDark Originals that disappeared. Because the seven that were released were pretty much garbage. It’s just strange. Hey, maybe that 6.5 minute trailer is really all they shot to begin with.

  • Aaron Emery

    Wow, I had pretty much forgotten about this one! I would think if they thought that had something halfway decent or sell-able somebody would have had it released back when the first couple of PA films were such a huge thing. The critical praise and general financial intake on those films has significantly died down, at this point I think it’s safe to say a few (god I hope not) more sequels and that franchise is done too. “From the creator of Paranormal Activity” isn’t a big seller anymore, at least I wouldn’t think so.

  • Aaron Emery

    Hey, what ever happened to that “movie” UPPER?? If I remember you guys were doing a lot of research into it’s authenticity, do we know what’s up with that?

  • ThunderDragoon

    I have patience. I’ve been waiting for almost a full decade now for Jeepers Creepers 3. If I can wait through that, I can wait through any movie release.

    • Aaron Emery

      Us JEEPERS CREEPERS fans get left in the dust year after year, waiting. I still have hope that one day it’s just going to happen!

  • Matt

    I saw the film in November 2010 and it needed a ton of work. It has one decent sequence in the desert, but nothing else really worked. It all built up to an ending that promised tons of ‘revelations,’ and of course provided none of them.

  • JoeR

    Whatever happened to Nurse 3D? It was filmed in 2011 and we still haven’t seen a single frame of it. It’s not like it went the festival route like “You’re Next” where people have seen the movie and it’s just awaiting a general release. Nurse is an in-house Lionsgate production with no outside producers so it’s not an independent film. It was conceived by their head of marketing, after all.

    Another one is The Strangers 2. The first was a big success so what gives regarding the sequel?

  • Grime

    The Chernobyl Diaries was easily the worst movie of 2012. The River was unwatchable. Oren Peli is a one hit wonder.

    • DownNola1995

      I wouldn’t say Chernobyl was the worst, but it was just ok at best. The River was just boring.You’re right about Oren Peli prolly just being a one hit wonder. It seems like all he knows is found footage and he can only do so much with it. I know Chernobyl Diaries wasn’t found footage, but it felt like it, especially with the shaky camera. This is probably why he’s producing more nowadays than he is writing and directing.

  • DownNola1995

    As far as I know, the last I’ve heard about this movie was that Jason Blum said they’re still working on this and it should be out sometime in the not so distant future. This was in an interview back in October when PA 4 came out.

    I’m done getting my hopes up about this movie until an official announcement is made. It seems that from test screenings that the movie was boring and not really scary except for one sequence. A found footage movie on Area 51 would be interesting to see, but since it’s found footage I’d imagine it’d be hard for them to do a lot with it. That being said, if they need to wait for it to comes out until it’s good then I’m all for it. No need to rush into a release only to have it turn out bad.

  • DownNola1995

    Here’s the article btw. I know not much info is given, but considering what he said, I imagine it’ll still come out at some point.

  • dr.lamb

    I have another idea for an article about a lost movie: What happened to “Panzer 88” ?

  • viking1983

    i was thinking about this film the other day wondering if it had been released or not, ages ago I was hyped for this but after seeing the god awful insidious and Chernobyl diaries I don’t think this will be any good

  • Ξενος Αγγελος

    Just saw this;really wasn’t worth the wait.

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