Cinema Roundup

cinema roundup jan 2nd

In 2007, writer-director Oren Peli revitalised the horror genre with Paranormal Activity.

With a budget of merely $15,000, it was set to be yet another micro budget film that gets lost among the competition until a copy of the film fell into the hands of Steven Spielberg, who recognised Peli’s work as a cut above the average low budget horror dross. With Spielberg’s help, the film received a limited theatrical release Stateside. Audiences flocked in their droves and word of mouth quickly spread. With cinema chains demanding a piece of this action, Paranormal Activity was given a wide international cinema release and went on to gross over $200 million dollars, making it the most profitable movie in history.

Film-makers everywhere looked on in envy and a rash of poor imitations began to flood the market, including three official but vastly inferior sequels. Now we get Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, billed not as a sequel but a spinoff. The film is set in a Hispanic-American community but that’s really all that distinguishes it from the rest of the series. The effects are impressive but the scares are absent and the movie has none of the suspense or tension that distinguished the 2007 original.

Idris Elba is an actor who’s developed a cult following in recent years thanks to his performances in TV’s The Wire and Luther. Now, with the title role in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, his career seems set to move up a level. While he may not physically resemble the late South African, his performance is impressive but the movie is a bland, by the numbers affair that rushes through a life in two hours without providing any insight into its subject.

Also out this week is Last Vegas, a comedy that bills itself as a geriatric version of The Hangover and continues the rapid decline of Robert de Niro’s career.

By Eric Hillis