10.09.2009

The Paramount Cut of Paranormal Activity: What's Different?



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.

SPOILERS AHEAD!
TURN AWAY!
COME BACK WHEN YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE!
YAR!!!!!!!

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.

The Ending:

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.



27 comments:

  1. I wish I could've seen both cuts just to see the differences on film, but Paramount's cut was certainly a masterpiece.

    This is a very good analysis and I think that many of your points are right on. I think the scene with Katie rocking back and forth could've been very effective because i would get so freaked out when she would just stand there for hours, to see her sit for DAYS would've been crazy.

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  2. Holy shit! I had no idea that the Paramount version tinkered w/ the original. I feel kind of cheated. I hope they include the original when it gets its DVD release.

    Great review and write-up.

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  3. great write up.

    The CG bugged me a bit more the second time around, mostly b/c I new what was coming and what the other endings that exist are. Here's to hoping when the DVD comes out you can choose which version you want to watch.

    The movie creeped my wife out, especially when she tried falling asleep last night.

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  4. GODDAMN MASTERPIECE FUCKING SCARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!OMG

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  5. "I'll be back" ::in a terrible Arnold impression::

    Didnt even realize there was a new cut made for the distribution pick up??

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  6. Becky - I had no idea Paramount edited and deleted some scenes. Was the original version the one that played at midnight madness shows?

    I just saw the Paramount version today and it was quite good. Great post, this should be on IMDB Trivia.

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  7. The original did not play at midnight showings either. However, the original played at film festivals, particularly Screamfest where it was picked up by the studio. It went back and forth for two years before they decided on how to release it.

    The only reason I was able to see the original is through a Producing professor at my alma matter, who had a copy of the screener that was purchased. So I lucked out.

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  8. I wish I could've seen the original. I was a little disappointed with the movie but the ending was good. The ending you saw sounds even better though.

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  9. does anyone know if the part where micha finds the web site is that video a real video and does anyone know were to locate it??

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  10. i liked the write up informed me about alot,
    the version that i have the bits that were added in ur list werent in my copy but the bits that were removed i have in my copy im not sure if i was missing out to much of the ones that werent in there but still was a fantastic movie, very heart racing

    also the bit how the possed girl bites her arm off haha that bit i was liek wow for a second cause ididnt think theyd show it but they even showed her biting a chunk out of her arm and that was not bad i guess like it wasnt needed in the film to much i think but it didnt matter whether they had it or not

    P.S also i really didnt want the movie to end :( i was really enjoying it

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  11. well i hear alot of different endings.. and im very impressed at the work that was done cause i actually thought the movie was real footage..
    the ending that i saw was different from the endings tha of the theaters.. the ending i seen katie was sleep walking went downstairs started screaming and micah ran down stairs only to be killed. by katie then she sat there rocking for a whole day and night.. then amber comes see's micah dead hauls ass out of the house then cops come.. come upstairs to see katie all bloody holding a knife. when she wakes up from her paranormal state she's confused see's the lights from the cops flashlights and gets up saying micah micah and get's shot.. pretty intense mad props i thought the movie was real til i heard there was alternate endings.

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  12. yes,a very freaky film indeed,my girlfriend is worried about going sleep later,we've just watched it,it now 4.34 pm,hahahahahahahaha

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  13. The release of the DVD will include the original as well as the theatrical version. I completely relate to what you are saying about how you wish they would of pasted the two endings together. I found it so creepy in the theaters ending when Katie is standing over micah before going downstairs, while suddenly the blanket is pulled off of him. It was so frightening to me because it was basically showing that the demon was in the room with her. I also liked the second ending because she just stays there in a trance for so many days. However I did not like the way that the police shoot her. Realistically it just seemed stupid and immoral because she was really only freaking out. I probably would of been more satisfied if she would of suddenly woken from her trance and realizing that he is not in sight gone downstairs to find his dead body and realizing what she had done. THEN she could of killed herself or that could of possibly left room for a sequel. I think what is truly disappointing about this film is that there were so many possible options for improving the film. I walked away from it feeling that the idea of it was suprisingly really awsome, but felt that some parts just destroyed my enjoyment towards it. Upon recently seeing the film, researching its regarding information, and really thinking about it. I feel that there were so many options that a major motion picture simply ignored. One scene that leaves me extremely confused is the one with Micah studying the scratched (or whatever) ouja board, saying that it contained "a message" that he couldnt figure out... AND HE NEVER DID. It seemed so pointless to even keep the scene in the movie but Im not sure if I missed its meaning toward the movie. But for those who have not seen it, I definitely think its worth checking out. It seems like it would be scarier at home but the experience is better in front of a large screen. So conclusively, if you have a large television in your home, you are in luck for an improved experience.

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  14. This movie was really scary the first time that i had seen it. Now I just want to go back & see it over & over again!! Its a great movie to go & watch halloween night!

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  15. Thanks for this review :D its one of the best reviews i've ever read :)

    Regards,
    Yazid

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  16. I've only seen the original because the new version hasn't been released in British cinemas yet. In the original cut, Micah works out that the burns on the Ouija Board spell out a name - DIANE. This is significant because he later discovers that the woman who be helieves was possessed by the same demon on the internet was called Diane (she's the woman who chews her arm off during her failed exorcism). I am very sad to hear that the exorcism scene has been cut because it was absolutely chilling. Katies reaction as she realises what the demon is capable of doing is very real and the scene ramps up the tension as Micah realises the seriousness of what is happening. Without the exorcism scene, the Ouija board scene doesn't make much sense so I think the film makers have made a big mistake in removing that scene. I would also question their decision to cut the scene where Katie rings her father at 4AM to ask him if the photo survived the fire - it was only a few seconds long but it gave you a real insight.

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  17. i'm really confused now. I mean I saw the Ouija board scene and Micah somehow gets a message from the "entity"; I also saw her call her dad up and ask about the photo; i saw her stand next to the bed - twice - (probably while It was in her) for hours; i also saw that micah found "Diane" - the name from the Ouija Board - online and saw her footage; The scene of her holding the cross but not the scratched photo. the ending was of her in a trance as she goes down (i actually dont think that it was really her screaming, it just dnt sound right). Is this the original?
    i just finished seeing the film - my sis had been bugging me for a whole (maybe 2) weeks - and it has seriously freaked me out now.
    One question though - is this based on a real story??? I mean if it was then the ending that they showed could be realistic as well. B/c this film was actually dedicated to Katie and Micah and thanks was given to the police and their family for releasing the footage.

    P.S. did you notice that everytime something would happen in the bedroom there was a shadow moving along their bedroom door??

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  18. I saw it last night and it wasn't even scary at all although some girls found it scary but then what do you expect from girls

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  19. Chris is sexist =D

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  20. I've only seen the original, and it freaked me out. I loved the part when Katie got up at night and just stared at Micah for hours, and when she actually went downstairs, and outside and just sat there on the swing.
    I thought the footage was real and all of this had really happened - that's what freaked me out the most.
    Well, then my friend told me it wasn't based on a true story.

    I am looking forward to seeing the Paramount version, though I'm sure the original is a bit better.

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  21. Thanks for this post! I was wondering what exactly had been tampered with, especially the ending. Kind of stinks that Paramount did all that. The DVD has a crappy CGI ending and senseless bass rumbling sounds at the beginning of each night.

    Thanks again for this!

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  22. bad,or good,...this movie with soo much cash made,its obious that made wave in all over the world,remind us that,somewhere....there...we are not alone...i`ve seen lots of scary movies,but i cannot say,cut or uncut...was the best movie,that really made interest in viewing,i was just watching this at 3:00am...:),if anyone watch it in same time of the night,i`m sure felt the same way...=)....

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  23. I've seen the original cut only and I didn't kno the part were she calls her mom was takin out thts lame.. And is there a website for tht exorsism I wanna see it :) it looks kewl

    -Caity

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  24. ok, i've noticed that a lot of people that have seen the ending where Katie gets shot by the police are forgetting or missing a very important, but not very noticable detail. She doesn't get shot just from approaching the officer...did you happen to notice the bedroom door behind the officer?? It slams shut, startling the cop and he pops off a round into Katie. I first saw this movie in theaters at an midnight early showing in the UK (probably a few weeks after it was released in the states). It scared the poop outta me. I was shaking so bad when i got outta the theater that i had to wait 15 minutes before getting onto my motorcycle to drive home. when i got home, my wife wasn't home (she was still working on base) and i only had a key to the back door...SCREW THAT, i was NOT about to walk around my dark yard when the wind was blowing up a storm. NOR was i about to go into my dark house alone after seeing that movie! there's more to the story, but i'm tired of typing. all in all, excellent movie. I've seen all versions and endings and actually just picked it up on BluRay. yeah, but there's no behind the scenes or anything like that on there...a little disappointing, but hey, there aren't too many secrets whn it comes to movies nowadays, so good on this group for keeping it a secret with this movie.

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  25. The part that killed it for me was when they show the ouji board setting itself on fire after moving. Why doesn't this ever come up after the fact anywhere in the movie? Obviously if you catch something like that on film you don;t just act like it never happens. And that is exactly how they portray it.

    It makes no sense to me what so ever to show that scene and then never go over the evidence again with the people who are supposedly conducting the investigation. /boggle

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  26. The exorcism was by far the best scene of the entire movie. Plus, watch very carefully in some scenes, you'll be suprised how much you missed! Micah and Katie got on my nerves halfway through the movie, they didn't do anything the doctor advised them to do, they bicker despite the doc telling them that'll give negative energy to power the demon, Micah taunts and swears at the demon, despite the doc telling him DO NOT communicate with it and DO NOT get an ouija board, and what does he do? Gets an ouija board, making Katie go nuts at him and feed the demon more negative energy. They kinda had it coming don't you guys think?

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  27. Awesome! thank you so much for the human DVD extras you've put near the end. I think the alternative ending is perhaps better, but i can't argue with the majority i guess

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