A pink taxi

A pink taxi

November 20, 2010

Paranormal Activity

I am American and like most Americans, I love peanut butter and pumpkin pie. Its an American inclination. I have the same inclination to horror movies. Those quintessential flicks like Nightmare on Elm Street always have so much Americana in them that you must have lived in the United States to understand the finer references.

Artsy movies are my first choice but I do confess to loving Twilight. Vampire movies aren't nearly as scary as the horror movies I agree to see on rare occasions when my older brother buddies up with me for a movie date: not the random ones but more the home-movie type, with Blair Witch as the first one of that type. They are reality show parodies. The characters act as though they have forgotten the video camera is there, as many do when they are at big memorable occasions.

Yet what persists more, and especially before the drama is the daily routine, the no occurence type of footage. It lulls the spectator so that he/she can be jolted in fright when the gruesome occurs.The scary is also funny because it touches on all our insecurities: the strange noises, the fear of being alone, the odd and awkward situations like being locked out of your house with no phone or shoes.

Paranormal Activity (part I, part II) dwell on the simple act of sleeping, of what happens while you are fast asleep and the act of the other sleeping. The eerie scene is of the girlfriend standing in a daze over her boyfriend while he sleeps, staring at him for hours. The theme is about spirits and haunted modern houses. Indeed the houses aren't similar to Adam's Family which are construed in a dramatic costumed monster castle with dust and cobwebs. In Paranormal Activity, suburbia sprawls.

Swimming pools, gadgeted kitchens, basements and bedrooms with large closets make for door banging scenes.We sit with our popcorn, children of the eighties, who have all watched Poltergeist by Steven Speilberg and remember how the whole summer it was released was hauntingly scary. That whole summer we were scared of TVs!

It had been a few weeks after my Hallaween viewing of Paranormal Activity 2 with my brother. I was now at bikram yoga when the instructor led us into posture 17. As usual he used very precise instructions which my ears were tuned to and my muscles were ready to follow. For Salabhasana, he requested that we raise one leg at a time and insure that, figure of speech, our toes and leg were dragged to the end of the room.

That was when the Paranormal Activity imagery attacked me, as I lay in zen on my mat, applying my concentration to a pose that my hamstrings would benefit from. However, at that split moment, and luckily for a split instant, I had the uncontrollable urge to laugh. I imagined the scene in Paranormal Activity 2 when the spirit was dragging the defenseless mother by her toes, down to the basement. The towel beneath me muffled my laughter.


  1. It is amazing when movie going was for entertainment:cowboys following Indians,American kids dancing in West Side Story and Zanado,romantic love stories etc.Now it has to be violent,scarey and full of damaged police cars,torn out cities etc.
    Normal and educated 40-something generation,dubbed the kids of the 80s are thirsty for Vampires and are not satisfied if Freddy Kruger doesnot outdo himself on the next Elm St episode(the address of the blogger at Smith College!)

  2. Only our blogger can manage to mix horror with Bikram Yoga. Having said that, I have to admit I was terrified the whole showing of Paranormal Activity 2. It freaked me out! Probably, because I'm a new dad and there are really scary scenes in the nursery. My wife refused to attend the showing having seen the poster with the crib and baby in it. She never attends horror movies in general. I always enjoy watching good horror movies with the blogger because she manages to turn it into an intellectual exercise where we discuss Americana and real life situations. We always end laughing about the movie after the showing (most probably because we are actually really scared out of our minds!)