AVAILABLE ON DVD: August 13th
RUNNING TIME: 89 mins
REVEIWED BY: De Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Supernatural Activity is a popular TV show which investigates the paranormal. Though obviously faked, the general public don’t seem to mind and the programme is very popular. For their latest end of season Special, Blair Woods wants everyone to go to a Native American burial ground, but her boyfriend and the most prominent member of the team, the popular Damon Dealer, decides that they should investigate sightings of a creature called the Smallsquatch, seemingly a relation of the Sasquatch and the Yeti. While some of the group visit the house of the family who last saw the monster, the others begin to explore the woods nearby….
It was only a matter of time before the Found Footage genre received a spoof. It’s a sure thing of something’s popularity and prominence in popular culture when it gets a good old ribbing. There’s nothing like a good spoof, but sadly in recent years the spoof movie has got very lazy, seeming content to replicate scenes from popular movies without putting much of a spin on them. The DVD of Supernatural Activity comes with “from one of the creators of Scary Movie” proudly emblazoned on the front, as if that were a good thing. Actually to be honest I’ve only seen the first Scary Movie, but it was enough for me! Supernatural Activity, which takes as its main targets The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and The Last Exorcism but also takes in those awful, obviously faked [well to me anyway] TV shows like Most Haunted, is a little better than that. It’s not really a good film, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh out loud a few times, which is the main purpose of a low brow comedy like this, isn’t it?
Yes, the humour in Supernatural Activity is mainly of the crude kind; this is the kind of film where over-the-top dirty talk between a couple is supposed to make us laugh and succeeds in doing so too. It’s initially a little hard to get into though for a while, even if you know the type of thing it’s parodying, though it does actually seem a bit more sophisticated than it actually is. We are introduced to the TV show of Supernatural Activity and its presenters, and here the film makes some barbed comments on celebrity and people’s reaction to the supernatural. It’s made very clear that everyone knows the show is faked but that many people still believe it. Many of us want to believe in the paranormal, even need to believe in it; in some cases it helps us with our daily lives and to deal with things. There is a really funny and pointed scene where Dealer is seen to levitate in front of an adoring crowd, yet you can clearly see that someone behind is just lifting him up! It seems that this film is going to border on being witty!
After this though the film just seems mostly content to mimic its inspirations, and, though there certainly are some decent laughs, the bits in between are not really good enough. There are some good tasteless bits [as long as you don’t mind tasteless], such as when one character cries for the demon to stop and pleads: “I’ll have sex….with condoms….in Africa”. The Christian family leads to a few good laughs including an especially funny game of charades, though the scene is a bit short. Other supposedly funny scenes just don’t work though or seriously outstay their welcome. There’s a bit where Dealer is possessed, and for about ten minutes he yells and pulls faces and even mimics, not very well, the voices of some well known people. It seems to go on for about ten minutes [though it was probably a great deal less than that], and you may wish Pepper, the member of the team who has a serious weakness for guns, was present at the scene so he could shut him up permanently. Infact, Andrew Pozza, who also wrote the script, spends half the film yelling and pulling faces, as if that in itself is funny. Well, it is if you’re Jim Carrey, but Pozza’s no Carrey.
Expectations seem to be set up and then not fulfilled. There’s a promising bit which copies the set-up in Paranormal Activity, with just one still camera facing the bed and the door, and you wonder what the filmmakers can do with an idea that has much potential for ridicule. Well, um, actually very little is done with it, the payoff being rather lame, and sadly quite a bit of the film is like this. The characters are certainly well delineated though if very cliched. You’ll probably chuckle at the really vain guy who spends much of the show topless and thinks he is the reason people watch it. I’ve seen enough would-be-amusing gun nuts to last a lifetime though, and I wonder how many people would find Pepper, the one is this film, funny at the moment considering recent events? None of the characters are especially likeable and Dealer is a truly obnoxious and arrogant git, but this is obviously intended to show how much we seem to like unpleasant people on TV. How else does one account for the popularity of odious toads like Simon Cowell?
There’s a sense of ‘holding back’ in Supernatural Activity, even with the conventions of the way Found Footage films are shot. Not enough is done with things like ‘shakycam’ which deserve a good mocking, and actually the camera is more still in this film than it actually should be. I could not agree more with a line during the end credits which says “Austin Powers is not in this film, otherwise it would be funnier”, the inclusion of which maybe indicates the filmmakers know their movie isn’t too good. If they don’t have confidence in their own film it’s very sad. Still, it does have its moments and would probably benefit from the consumption of some alcohol. You could do a lot worse, considering it’s retailing for £5.
Buy this DVD here; http://www.tescoentertainment.com/store/dvd/supernatural-activity/8%3a945378