Interview: Micah Sloat of Paranormal Activity
Wed, 30 Dec 2009 11:08:51
If you have trouble sleeping, you'll have even more after you watch Paranormal Activity on DVD.
Available now, the DVD is just as terrifically terrifying as the big screen version was. There's something delightfully evil about this movie, and with its realistic, down-n-dirty look at possession, Paranormal Activity is one of 2009's best films. The realism truly comes from Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston's performances. It's impossible not to feel the horror that they feel as their relationship and psyches break down with each and every frame.
Micah talked to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about how scary losing control is, the movie's rhythm, musical resonances and why horror fans rule in this exclusive interview.
Paranormal Activity really explores the loss of control, and that's the scariest aspect of the movie. Was that something you felt?
Yeah, actually I think that was a very deliberate move that we made, while we were creating the film. Props to you for recognizing that! The movie works based on the conflict between Katie and myself and how that escalates. We do lose control of the situation, and it just spirals to become this thing where we no longer even really know what we're doing. At the end of the movie, I'm just running on fear and instinct—it's definitely that loss of control and handing over the reins to this evil entity who's really masterminding the whole thing. We just don't know about it. The audience does though, which is a cool dichotomy.
All of the action takes place between you and Katie, and that loss of control becomes especially palpable because of that.
The simplicity of the story and the setting really allows you to experience that fear in a much more immediate way. Most movies, we're distracted by effects, plot twists and all kinds of things that don't take away from the fear, but they don't let you experience it in that immediate, visceral sense that we're going for in Paranormal.
Did you research a lot of the occult events that inspired the film's concept?
It was essential to Oren [Peli, director] and all of us that we be very true to what has actually happened in haunting scenarios. We were making the film for the hardcore haunting and horror fans that love ghosts. We said, "If we can please these people who know every single thing about hauntings—if we can make a movie for them—then everybody else will like it as well." That was our goal, and Oren did a ton of research. He was a champ. He knows so much about the occult, the paranormal, devils, demons, hauntings and ghosts. He was thoroughly prepared, and he had us watch a lot of documentary footage about actual hauntings and people who have reported things. We did do our homework, and hopefully it shows.
With its rhythm and flow, the movie feels like it's actually possessing the viewer.
[Laughs] That's cool. I've never thought about it that way. That's really interesting.
The film creeps in very musically.
Definitely! We tried different cuts of the movie where it just gets right to the action. For example, where you see the haunting stuff hit the fan right at the beginning and you go on the ride. It doesn't have that effect. Like the pied piper, it calls the audience along and almost lulls them to sleep a bit in the sense that viewers are involved with the characters' day-to-day lives. Then when they experience the real fear, you're on board. I think you're right. I give it all up to Oren as far as sticking to his guns and believing in what he had created originally and setting up the pacing. He just did a phenomenal job.
If you could compare Paranormal Activity to an album what would you compare it to?
This is interesting! I was actually thinking about this the other day. Black Sabbath actually took their name from a Bela Lugosi horror movie called, Black Sabbath. The bass player, Geezer Butler, was standing outside of a theater and he saw this line stretching down the block, and there were all of these horror fans waiting in the rain to see this movie. He said, "Wow, horror fans are such great fans. What if there was music that sounded like a horror film?" That was the birth of heavy metal. I don't know if Paranormal Activity is Black Sabbath all the way through, but your question reminded me of that story.
What about Black Sabbath into Slayer for Paranormal?
[Laughs] Right on! Or you could go with something a little creepier. I'm a musician so I'm going to get all into this question later. I'll be thinking about this all day [Laughs]. I'm going to with Black Sabbath for now. That's a great question by the way! Thank you for asking that!
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…