Paranormal Activity is one of the most successful horror franchises the industry has seen over the last few decades. The first film, directed by Oren Peli for a reported budget of $15,000, grossed well over $100 million and spawned three direct sequels. The spin-off film, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, was released in January of this year and is now out on Blu-ray. Nerdist had a chance to speak with Peli along with mega producer Jason Blum and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones writer/director Christopher Landon about the most recent film, where the franchise is going and what additional material the fans can expect on the uncut version.
The process of making a Paranormal Activity movie is a lot more complicated than one might assume, and The Marked Ones director Christopher Landon has worked on all of them since Paranormal Activity 2. Blumhouse Productions Jason Blum said, “Making a found footage movie is way, way harder than writing a normal [movie].” Landon added, “I love the improv stuff and this is something that a lot of people don’t know: yes, there is a script. There’s a full script. It looks like a regular script… It’s always one of those things where people are like, ‘Didn’t you just make it all up?’ And you’re like, ‘No!'”
For fans of the Paranormal Activity universe, what can they look forward to that was cut out of the most recent film? Landon told us, “There’s a lot of stuff. We have some set pieces that we cut out. We wanted to try and keep the runtime down for the theatrical release, but there’s actually a lot of story and a lot of other stuff that is in the uncut version. There’s one really awesome, really scary set piece that’s in a church (that) I think people are going to love. There’s a couple of really good scares, I don’t want to spoil anything… [A] lot of the stuff that’s in the uncut version, it’s definitely well worth watching and really, really fun.”
Paranormal Activity happens to be my favorite horror franchise, but I think it’s a mostly unanimous opinion that the fourth installment was the weakest of the group. The Marked Ones, while a spin off, was the follow up to Paranormal Activity 4 and definitely serves the greater universe. What was it that Landon was looking to accomplish with the most recent installment? “You know, I think that when we were all talking about making this movie, we knew that since we were going into a different world and a world that felt a little more urban. We wanted it to have some more freedom and explore stuff we haven’t done before. I think part of that was kind of pushing the violence, pushing the – this was a big one – we had nudity! Oh my gosh, there’s sex and nudity! But we’re also dealing with, you know, teenage guys, and that’s a big part of that world, no matter what, and that goes back to the honesty thing, which is, we wanted to present characters and situations that felt grounded and real and relatable. That’s definitely part of it. But I wanted it to feel like it had some more oomph, and also being able to go out in the world and be able to explore other places and not be in one house all the time was a big deal for us.”
Since he will not be working on the next chapter of Paranormal Activity, what is Landon up to now? “I’m doing another movie for Paramount… It’s a horror comedy. It’s called Scouts vs. Zombies… It’s a really big, fun, crazy – it’s really crazy. If you can imagine Stand By Me and The Goonies crashing into The Walking Dead, that’s the vibe.”
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is available on Blu-ray now. The next installment of the horror franchise is expected to hit theaters this October.