Movies to Throw Up To, Part 1: Paranormal Activity

Note: This post contains big spoilers for a movie that you probably shouldn’t want to see anyway.

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Nobody caters to the easily nauseated. Here at XXBlaze, I like to pride myself at catering to really unpopular abnormalities. Being about as abnormal and unfit for civilized society as I unwillingly can seems to be my niche.  According to the powers that be, there really isn’t a bigger crime against nature than being a educated opinionated fat gay woman.

So right here, I’m declaring a new series. I’ll call it, “Movies to Throw Up To”. I figure with the popularity of playlists such as “Songs to Have Heterosexual Church-Sanctioned Sex To” and “Songs to Get in Shape So as to be Suitably Fuckable To”, I might ride their coattails a little. In the name of feminism, squeamishness, and informing the public of what to avoid, you understand.

Right, so Movies to Throw Up To. First up is the movie I reluctantly saw this Halloween: Paranormal Activity. When it comes to riding coattails, this flick has got it in the bag. Cashing in on the popularity of other really fucking stupid movies like Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity captures suspense with a camera technique I’d like to call “I paid $10 to see a movie costing a more money than I’ll ever see that looks like it was shot by a $50 camera attached to a run-away washer”.

In other words, the movie is much more likely to make you physically sick than to scare you.

So like Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity required that I take several short breaks in the middle of the film to step out into the hall. Not because it was too scary or intense, you understand, but because I was really fucking nauseous and had to go learn over a trash can until I figured I was fine enough to return to indulging my masochistic taste in cinema.

But unlike Cloverfield, I actually made it through the entire movie. I really wish I hadn’t.

Paranormal Activity reminds me of being eight years old at a slumber party and telling creepy stories to friends to see who would get more freaked out. We’d sit around in our Barbie sleeping bags and tell stories about white vans and creepy coincidences. Funny enough, all those stories were total bullshit and the product of sugar binges and reading too much Goosebumps. We were all more frightened of a totally innocent white van parked by a telephone pole than we were of the dude that showed us his penis in the public library.

Being a big girl now, I’m a bit more concerned with 40-year old sex offenders than demons and ghosts. I wish I could say that the rest of the world shares my good sense of priorities, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Thus, the thriving popularity of movies like Paranormal Activity: movies that don’t scare you once you grow the fuck up and figure out that demons are the dudes who run the fucking world or who fly under the radar because the people they hurt are just blamed for being victimized.

Which brings me to my next point: that douche Micah, Kate’s, the protagonist’s, boyfriend.

The scariest part of the movie, aside from how close I got to throwing up the chili I had for dinner, was how much of an unsympathetic misogynist asshole Katie’s live-in boyfriend is. She tells him to stop doing something, he does it anyway. She pleads with him to do things her way, and he blows her off. She tells him to turn off the camera when, he keeps it on. He even tries to keep it on while they have sex.

Katie quickly figures out, however, that the demon that has been haunting her since she was eight is angered by a dude stepping in on his territory. Because, ya know, women are totally the property of whatever paranormal shit is out there or a dude. Match-up: Demon From Hell versus Misogynistic Boyfriend. Who will win the ownership of a vagina? Very original. My third favorite part is when Micah gets pissed off at the demon and starts yelling about “his house” and “his girlfriend” and how he’s “going to take care of it”. Yeah dude, you’re going kick the ass of something that doesn’t have a corporeal form. Good luck with that.

Obviously, everything that Micah does to “take care of it” pisses the demon off. Katie doesn’t want him to do it, he does it anyways, the demon gets angry and does more crazy shit when they sleep. There, I just ruined the plot of the whole movie. You’re welcome.

Coming in a close second for my favorite scene is when Micah gets pissed off (good acting dude: varying between ineffectual pissed off he-man and dismissive surly ineffectual he-man for two hours) at Katie because she tells him that she’s really mad at him for getting an Ouiji board, after everyone told him not too and he promised Katie that he wouldn’t, that she needs to “go upstairs and hang out with her demon boyfriend”. Silly bitches, putting their needs and safety above listening to the Man of the House. They should just go upstairs and hang with the demon that wants to kill them, if they’re going to be uppity like that and think that they know better about how to deal with the shit that haunted them for like, most of their lives.

So Katie goes upstairs and slams the door. The camera shuts off, then turns on again to a scene of Micah holding Katie on the floor of the upstairs hall while she cries and tells him she’s sorry. He replies, “it’s not your fault”. Which, funny enough, it isn’t. See, the demon has been haunting Katie since she was eight. It even burnt down her childhood home. This demon is Serious Business. All the demon did, until Micah got his camera, against her wishes, and put powder on the floor to track its footprints, against her wishes, and trying to contact it with an Ouiji board, against her wishes, is burn down a house and breathe on her while she slept. Creepy dangerous shit, you understand, but not anything close to what it’s been doing now. Probably because Micah thinks that his pride and chest-beating he-man antics are more important than not pissing off the thing that you can’t hurt but has really evil intentions towards someone you supposedly love. To get back at Katie for involving her boyfriend, the demon basically does creepy shit every single night instead of just sometimes, which escalates to leaving supposedly irretrievable mementos from her childhood burnt-down home around her house and dragging her down the hall while she sleeps and biting her.

Instead of this being a good indication that Micah really ought to listen to his girlfriend and stop doing shit she knows will piss the demon off, he gets it into his head that’s it’s a good idea for him and Katie to leave the house. Even though the medium (whom he predictably thinks is a quack), Katie, and her best friend all told him that the demon will just follow and get more pissed off. Just like it has been following her since she was little. Micah doesn’t listen though, because he’s smarter than the quack physic and all those silly bitches with their vaginas. He packs up, and prepares to leave the next day when Katie stops protesting.

And here comes my favorite part of the movie: the end. I loved the end because I got to stop watching the totally asinine antics of the Man Who Hasn’t Got a Fucking Clue through the lens of a camera attached to some sadistic machine hell-bent on making me as motion sick as possible.

Additionally, the end was sweet because Micah finally shuts the fuck up. Yep, the Demon From Hell figures that Micah has stepped in on his territory for the last time. As they sleep, it possesses Katie, makes her stand over her boyfriend and watch him as he sleeps for three hours, then walks her down the hall, down the stairs, and makes her scream for her boyfriend.

Micah, like a fucking champ, wakes from a dead sleep with an instant woody at the idea of saving his damsel, vaults over the bed, and runs down the stairs. There’s a bunch of screaming, and then silence. Then, in the only part of the movie that made me jump, something is thrown at the camera, knocking it off the tripod.

That something is Micah’s lifeless body. Fuck yeah. And then Katie just kinda stands there, with her blood-stained pajamas, walks over and calmly smells him. Apparently being possessed by a demon makes the boyfriend you just killed smell good. Okay. Then she makes the patented creepy horror face, lunges at the camera, and everything goes dark.

The End.

So I stumble out of the theater, glad to be able to stand outside in the cold night air and let the combined motion sickness and the nausea of the totally asinine acting and plot fade. Just for an idea of how dumb the plot was, I spent at least 80% of the movie with my eyes closed trying not to throw up, and an additional 10% outside the theater and I didn’t miss a goddamned thing.

After returning home, I figure that I’m going to do this post. I sit down to do it, but as I start to type the first part of it, I am totally stumped on how to spell “Micah”. So I pull up IMDB and look it up.

What really killed me, and just hit home how much I fucking hate this movie, is that the most discussed thing in the movie’s forums was not the shitty camera angles. It wasn’t what a big stupid douche Micah is. It wasn’t that I was exchanged $10 for a ticket and an assumption of being entertained and got ripped off.

Nope, it was how “fat” the actress who played Katie was. Yep, the woman who walked around in barely-there pajamas for most of the movie, with nary a love handle or Buddha belly in sight, is a fucking whale. She’s just such an offense against the patriarchal standards of fuckability that the entire board is buzzing about what a goddamn fat ass she is.

Moral of the story: you can attach a camera to a washer and make a good portion of your audience want to hurl. You can make your secondary character an annoying macho butt nugget. You can cash in on the ever-so-popular horror genre of “hurting women for funsies”. You can forget to include that thing called a plot.

But all that anyone will notice is that the actress isn’t a size 0.

The verdict: I give this movie a 10 out of 10 on the nausea scale for finding a way to make me simultaneously physically and mentally sick, even an hour after I leave the theater. Well done.

Posted on November 1, 2009, in Feminism, Media and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Nice review. I’ve seen a lot of hype on this movie, and I’ve been dubious of their claims. Another good stomach churner is Battlefield Earth with John Travolta. The entire movie is filmed with an angled shot. Bad move all around though. I’d give your tummy a rest for a couple of months before ever watching it.

  2. Your review is hilarious! I think you have a talent for bad-film criticism, although it may not be worth your mental health to indulge it much.

    • Man, I wouldn’t even have to go looking for bad movies to watch. All movies recently are bad movies. I’m glad you thought it was funny, it was fun to write too. Typically my posts are a bit hard to write and invoke a lot of difficult emotions, but it looks like scorn is my muse for the best writing. Who said haughty intellectualism was good for nothing?

  3. I adore your scorn :-)

  4. This is a great post; I want to discuss a little more some of the points you made. I want to focus more on the relationship between the two characters and how they’re represented rather than the plot and whether or not it was scary (since there are so many different kinds of horror and it’s so subjective) since that’s what the bulk of your post was about. I watched this online with my partner a few weeks ago (it had the, in my opinion, much better original ending [but don't worry, Micah still dies at the end]) and Micah’s constant disrespect of his girlfriend and her wishes and fears drove us fucking insane the entire time. And the idea that he’s going to some how ‘take on the ghost like a MAN’ or some shit was just totally laughable. And this is a problem you have with 1. a representation of a ‘typical (i.e. gender traditional) relationship’ and 2. a movie that is in documentary style with only two or so characters. With the second point; you always have to have a character who will NEVER put the camera down no matter how fucking obnoxious and ridiculous it is for them to have them otherwise there would be no movie; those characters almost invariably turn out to be the douchebags of the film and I think we all know that that’s what Micah is. With the first point, I think it’s pretty obvious that Micah’s treatment of Katie throughout the film is NOT okay; most people I talked to about the film mentioned what an asshole he was. This film doesn’t condone Micah’s actions or pretend like they’re good or the right thing (I mean, he does DIE in all three different endings). It is really upsetting and annoying to see the same old stereotypical presentation of a couple but I do feel like this movie isn’t the very worst example of it out there.

    And as for the people bashing the actress’s weight: that’s just bullshit. And what’s even more bullshit is that it doesn’t surprise me.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Between your second point and the utter pointlessness of producing a movie that costs $10 to see but makes half your audience want to hurl, I’m growing to utterly despise “documentary” style movies. The only one I’ve ever seen done right was District 9.

      I’m glad that the people you saw it with thought Micah was stupid. My acquaintances weren’t so like-minded. They thought that he was either stupid or some awesome dude to stay with her if a demon was haunting her.

  5. Well, you’ve successfully warned me away from that one.

    I also have horrible motion sickness, and an aversion to douchey male leads. So while I do like some horror movies, and some mockumentary-style movies (I loved “District 9,” for example, and also “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Best in Show” et al., and “Confederate States of America”), I think I’ll give this one a miss.

  6. I was SO disgusted by this movie, too! I happened to find your blog through a variety of radfem blog mentions, and as I was perusing, I was relieved I found this spot-on review matching my total disgust for this stupid shit-festival. That dumb misogynist Micah basically is the homicidal rapist demon stalker asshole, only in non-invisible form. Even before all the misogyny, any hope I was holding out for the movie having some modicum of entertainment value was lost forever when they uttered the word “demonologist.” It cracked me up every time! I kept thinking, “willing suspension of disbelief: the foundation of all supernatural fiction…come on, you’ve done it before…” but it wasn’t enough. The rest of the movie made me want to blow up the world.

  7. Oh wow, this review is fucking GENIUS. I wish for just once that there would be a good paranormal movie that isn’t based around misogynistic bullshit cliche. As a couple of other people have pointed out I think a lot of their problems happen because of Micah being a shit-talker and for you, being a general dickhead.

    Apparently there’s a sequel in the works already :S

  8. I love this post, and the rest of your blog. More please!

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