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Who is editing these “Paranormal Activity” movies?

Who is editing these “Paranormal Activity” movies? (photo)

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No, I haven’t forgotten how to use IMDb. Yes, I know Oren Peli edited “Paranormal Activity” and Gregory Plotkin edited the second and third films. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about who in the fictional world of “Paranormal Activity” is editing these movies, particularly “Paranormal Activity 2” which I just watched for this first time last weekend.

“Paranormal Activity” was about a couple using a single video camera to record nightly intrusions by a poltergeist. The scale of the haunting and the degree to which their camera was involved made it plausible that the film was the totality of all the raw footage that these people shot. But the family recording their ghost troubles in “Paranormal Activity 2” uses an elaborate system of surveillance cameras to shoot footage all over their house. There are at least five different surveillance angles — the pool, the kitchen, the living room, the stairs and front door, and a baby’s bedroom — plus additional footage from one character’s handheld camera. These are supposedly “found footage” movies, in which the characters onscreen are the ones who shot the film we’re watching. But editing implies an author. So who’s the author? In other words: it’s found footage so who the hell found it?

I’ve been stewing over this for the last 24 hours. Here are the possibilities I’ve come up with, along with the reasons they can and can’t be “PA2″‘s author. I welcome any additional ideas in the comments below. I’ve got to get this sorted out in my mind before I go see “Paranormal Activity 3.”

POSSIBLE AUTHOR #1: The Police
WHY THE POLICE: Both “PA1” and “PA2” begin with similar disclaimers thanking “the families of the deceased” and the police departments of San Diego and Carlsbad, California respectively. If we buy that these events actually happened within the world of the film, then the footage represents evidence of crimes being committed. The films could hypothetically be police-made edits of the “evidence” for use at trials.
WHY NOT THE POLICE: If this is some sort of evidentiary videotape, it’s basically the worst evidentiary videotape in history. Particularly during the early, mood-building sequences of “Paranormal Activity 2,” scenes aren’t edited to show us what happened, they’re edited to make us wonder what happened. The editor frequently chooses from the five different security cameras to give us the most obscured (and therefore most unsettling) angle on the action. One of the clever little mysteries of “PA2” is the family’s automated pool cleaner, which starts every night in the water and winds up every morning sitting on the ledge beside it. We don’t see why that’s happening until the characters finally get curious about it halfway through the movie. But a true “evidence tape” would have revealed the explanation the very first time it happened. Unless that “evidence tape” was edited by someone with a serious flair for the dramatic.

POSSIBLE AUTHOR #2: The Studio
WHY THE STUDIO: Editing with a flair for the dramatic suggests that an anonymous editor at Paramount Pictures — the Paramount Pictures in the fictional universe of “Paranormal Activity,” mind you — could be responsible. The police could have given Paramount the raw footage and let them edit something together. That would certainly explain why the second film in particular messes with the audience in such an overt, horror film-y way.
WHY NOT THE STUDIO: Because why the hell would the police let a film studio chop up actual evidence of an actual crime for the sadistic pleasure of the moviegoing public? That makes no sense. I suppose some despicable person could have stolen or illegally acquired this footage and cut it together, but that makes Paramount complicit in the theft and exploitation of a legitimate snuff film, which is kind of awesome but also makes no sense.

POSSIBLE AUTHOR #3: The Demon
WHY THE DEMON: When I posed this question on Twitter, the most common response, albeit one made in jest, was some variation of “a ghost.” It’s a silly answer but it may also be the only logical explanation. The demon that haunts Katie in “PA1” and Kristi in “PA2” is clearly an a-hole: both films mention that he feeds on fear, and he definitely gets a kick out of slowly and methodically torturing his victims. The demon (call him “Toby” if you want, since that’s the name he’s apparently given in “PA3”) is realistically the only entity within the narrative with access to this material, the desire to mess with people, and the legal status to get away with doing it without having to worry about negative publicity or a lawsuit. That would sort of make “Paranormal Activity 2” a demonic version of a sex tape: the proof of a conquest a ghoul makes to show their friends what hot shit they are.
WHY NOT THE DEMON: If it’s this hard for a demon to steal a baby, I have a hard time envisioning them successfully navigating the murky waters of Final Cut Pro.

Now it’s your turn: who do YOU think is editing these “Paranormal Activity” movies? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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