Monsters vs. Aliens Director To Helm Live-Action, Found Footage Horror Flick

By Kristy Puchko 2012-02-16 08:53:13discussion comments
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Writer-director Rob Letterman built his film career with a string of family-friendly flicks, from the animated adventures Shark Tale and Monsters vs Aliens to his first live-action effort Gulliver's Travels. Now the Hollywood Reporter reveals Letterman has inked a deal with Syfy Films that will give him a shot at more mature material. The newly created offshoot of Universal has acquired Letterman's script The Paranormalists, and the former kiddie flick crafter is attached to direct. Produced by Brian Grazer, Kim Roth and Sarah Bowen of the Universal-based Imagine Entertainment, the film will be a found-footage horror feature that focuses on a group of young people who enter a rumored haunted house with aims of debunking its reputation. As you can imagine, things don't go as they plan.

While little else about The Paranormalists's plot is being released, it seems to be inspired by televisions supernatural-themed reality series like Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State, which follow self-proclaimed paranormal investigators into potentially perilous situations. But as television has long been flush with these kind of shows (Ghost Hunters International, Ghost Adventures, Destination Truth, Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal, and so on), hasn't this idea been done—pardon the pun—to death? Add to that the overused found-footage device and this seems like an entirely uninspired and low-risk effort with little to be excited about.

The Paranormalists will be the second production set up by Syfy Films, which was founded to craft low-budget genre films. The first is another found footage feature called Day 38 because nothing says low-budget like shaky cam cinematography. This sci-fi thriller follows a team of stormchasers who seek to confront a Category 5 tornado, but find themselves facing something else entirely. This Means War director McG is producing Day 38; and the Reporter says commercial director Richard Farmer is in talks to make the film his feature debut.

Ultimately, between the list of directors attached and the overdone devices involved, I find it difficult to hold out much hope for Syfy's announced slate being anything other than rushed and mindless offerings. As a horror fan, I find that shameful, as the genre can be explored to create something strange, scary and extraordinary, even on a small budget. Just look at Gareth Edwards elegiac thriller Monsters, or the indie that's spawned countless imitators Paranormal Activity. Each presented a unique concept that not only scared audiences but also awed critics, and both were born from miniscule budgets. But with so much dreck being pushed out that's looking to capitalize on the fervor of horror fans, the genre's often considered a lesser film enterprise. And it need not be, which makes Syfy's production slate all the more infuriating.

If you want to watch some solid horror that plays with the found-footage concept I suggest [Rec], Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, and Cropsey, which is actually a totally terrifying documentary. If there's more horror you think is worth mention, recommend in comments.
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