Thursday, November 3, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3: It Runs In the Family

It set several records.
It's pretty scary.
It does an excellent job (in my estimation) of employing techniques to convey information is a way suitable to what needs to be conveyed, including some very sophisticated techniques of noise and static.
And, as I mentioned, it's pretty scary. In fact, the guy at the theater told me he was having to card kids trying to get in who weren't 16 because so many of the shows have been sold out and the kids all want to see it.
They should see it, before it's too late. And to some degree, that's what it's about. And why it went from a record opening weekend to now having only a 66% fresh rating at rotten tomatoes. So what happened? In the words of one reviewer via twitter, "The last 5 minutes will change your life!" and I hope that it will change many people's lives. There is, however, a contradiction, a kind of fence-sitting that makes it difficult for secularists to really support it, or for Christians to really support it.
Essentially, it's about a coven of witches that kill Julie and her live-in boyfriend  Dennis and their led by Julie's mom, Grandma Lois. The only possible reason given that Lois would want Dennis and her daughter dead is that they are living together and Dennis is not the father of Julie's two girls, Kristie and Katie, and he doesn't have a regular income (he videos weddings and that's why he has so many cameras and tapes). It's not clear what Julie does but must do it very well because, in addition to having a large house, she drives a red, Mercedes-Benz station wagon. This seems a bit odd, to me. Red, of course, is the color of the appetites, and we know that Julie has several of those; a station wagon tends to be a family car and Mercedes is a luxury car, so in the car she drives (her vehicle and a sign of what her soul is made up of) she's family oriented but has an appetites for material luxury. And it takes place in September, 1988, like the film Killer Elite, also tracking some of our present-day problems back to the 1980's (please see Killer Elite: Definitions of Patriotism). 
So what's the problem with this film?
The definition of a "witch."
Usually, in my understanding, witches like sex, the more perverse and promiscuous the better (consider, for example Rosemary's Baby). So if this is really the only reason, why would Grandma "the witch" Lois brutally break Dennis' back (symbolizing that he didn't have the backbone to marry Julie) and kill her daughter? There's a lot of important issues which we could discuss regarding this film, but there is really only one that I think will finally put it into perspective: the wild card spirit haunting Julie, Dennis and the girls: Toby.
Toby is the name of the imaginary friend of the youngest of the two girls, Kristie. Toby can be violent and you get the idea that Toby is evil,... but "Toby" comes from the name "Tobias" which means "God is good," so if "God is good" is the one responsible for showing the two adulterers the price of their sin, then they must not really be witches after all, but a... prayer group? A commune of nuns? This is the problem with the film: it's trying to hide a moral message within a packaging of the occult that just doesn't make any sense; in trying to please everyone, it's pleasing no one. But the tag line, "It runs in the family," probably refers to the fact that Katie, like her mother, is living with her boyfriend in 2005 when the film opens (in 2005, the census was that nearly half of all couples were living together and not married). In 2005, the house is torn up and the box of videos with which the movie is told (home-movies all pieced together) is gone, and that's the only thing missing,... except a culturally consistent definition of what a "witch" is.