I’ve been pretty excited to take a look at the studio-tinkered version of Oren Peli’s found footage film. Luckily, it is not too different than the original. My previous review, which you can find here, still stands. A few new scary moments were added and some scenes removed, making the film the exact same 99-minute length as the original but with slightly different content. The biggest change is the end of the film. Paramount’s cut caters to the audience a bit more, sometimes more effective and sometimes less.
It was so much fun seeing this in a packed theatre for a midnight showing. Excitement and tension was in the air before the film even started. Once things started to go bump in the night, every single person was on edge: the 300 pound cholo, the skinny emo kid, the soccer mom, and even the dude wearing a Night of the Living Dead t-shirt. I don’t think I’ve ever had a theatrical experience that was so lively and engaging. Even if you don’t like the movie, watching the terrified faces of moviegoers is worth the admission price alone.
I’m not going to review the film again. I’m going to discuss the differences in detail (memory pending). If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t continue. I will spoil parts of it, including the ending.
COME BACK WHEN YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE!
What’s been added:
-The scene when Katie goes downstairs and finds her keys mysteriously in the middle of the floor in the morning. Meh. This was unnecessary. It does use a simple event to make us wonder whether or not something is really going on. Did the keys fall some other way? Is she overreacting? However, it’s pretty clear that paranormal events are occurring early on in the movie, so I’m not a fan of this addition.
-The sex scene. Well, it’s not really on camera, but I don’t remember them ever shutting off the camera specifically for that reason. A little intimacy that enlivens their connection is always good.
-The scare scene that takes place in the daylight, when the picture is smashed and something breathes on Katie. I can see why this was added. We were beginning to feel too safe in the daytime and it’s definitely a creepy scene. I still think it could have been more subtle than it was, but it was a good addition.
- Lots of sounds. It could have been because of the sound system I saw the original version in, but I think the sound effects were amped up by Paramount. I was glad to see that some of my favorite audio queues were still in the film, including that really loud one where they find the chandelier moving. That’s one of the scariest parts of the film and I’m so glad the sound wasn’t changed.
-Some video effects. It seems like there were some grain and video static transitions added. Although the grain could have just been the film print I saw, it did seem like they tried to make it look more like a home video aesthetic, despite the fact that Micah purchased a large Hi-Def camera. None of what was done is distracting though.
What’s been removed:
-Katie calls her parents after she finds the photograph. She asks if they kept anything from the house, specifically the picture of her at Easter that was kept on the mantle. Her parents tell her that it was burned. I really liked this scene. It seemed like a really genuine reaction, for her to just call her parents at 4am. This scene also took away some of the bubble factor—the concept that these invents are occurring within a bubble since we hardly see any outside interaction with other people.
-The exorcism video. When Micah finds the website about the exorcism that went wrong, he watches a video that was leaked out by a priest to inform people that exorcisms don’t always go well. In the video, the possessed woman actually bites off her own arm. It was very disturbing and I was sad to see the scene go. I understand why it was removed. They probably didn’t want to overshadow the later events, making them seem less severe.
-Some scenes of the couple messing around with the camera, Katie studying Spanish, and Katie explaining that she’s failing school because she can’t get enough sleep. The last one was kind of important, because it makes more sense for her to get pissed off when Micah won’t let her study, but I’m always a fan of cutting away fat from a movie’s runtime. There’s probably a few other moments that were removed, but I can’t remember. It seems like things have been shaved down in general, which is mostly good.
In concept, a lot of what occurs is the same. It’s executed completely differently and especially towards the last moments. In the original, Katie gets out of bed and stands there in her trance state for a while. She doesn’t walk over and stand above Micah. No sheet gets pulled off of him. Eventually, she goes downstairs and Micah wakes up to her screaming and runs downstairs. Paramount didn’t change the sounds that we hear while they are downstairs: lots of screaming, Micah freaking out, etc. Then we hear heavy footsteps of the demon walking up the stairs, only it appears to be Katie and she has blood all over her shirt and a knife in her hand. She sits on the floor by the bed and starts rocking back and forth. She does this for a couple days. One of her friends comes to check on them and finds what we presume to be Micah’s body. The cops show up and go upstairs to find Katie. She snaps out of her trance and is completely confused. She runs at the cops, asking where Micah is. The cops repeatedly ask her to stop, but she doesn’t and they shoot her down. The demon makes some noises in the spare room and the cops investigate only to find nothing.
I kind of wish I could cut and paste different parts of the two endings together to make what I think would be the best version. I like how Katie stands over Micah and I like how he is thrown into the camera in Paramount’s cut. However, I really don’t like the CG demon morph towards the camera at the end. It cheapened the movie for me. My favorite part of the original ending was seeing Katie rock back and forth for days. Having the cops blow her away was also unexpected and tragic. The titles that were added to the end of the film, saying that Katie’s body was never recovered were cheesy.
All in all, it’s a fantastic film, whichever cut you watch. Some things were added for the better and some were not. I missed a couple moments, but perhaps it flowed better this way. Things could have been changed for the worse, or even remade per the original plan. Thank you for not destroying this movie Paramount.