“The Camera is the Problem”: Boring Paranormal Camcorder Cinema
January 17, 2010
A YouTube hand-held jump-cut DIY sensibility masks cine-gimmicks as old as Melies and ever so much more tired given their age: doors that open and close on their own (creepy!), bumps in the night (scary!), sounds in the wings (BOOM!!), footprints in powder (an uber-faux Piercian index given our universal knowledge about the trick of manufacturing ghost-like appearances via a tripod and camera: on/off/devil hooves on powder/on again).
Granted, I saw it in a hotel room without the build up of group-think and anticipation (gaggles of girls clutching their boyfriends’ sweaty hands, swells and ebbs of building shrieks). Just as Blair Witch used its newly available consumer technology to lower the threshold of believability and scarability–hand-held horror–Paranormal banks on its homemade sensibility to stand in for documentary’s already destroyed hold on truth and believability.
I’ve written here about the paranormal phenomenon of corporate media that mocks DIY sensibilities to mark a fondness softened by ironic distance for a lost naive (filmic) purity. This film reverses that logic in a way I find confusing: people made but corporate bought and sold all the better for tapping in to the mainstream and making a tub of money…this flick just reads like a cheap bad movie to me: no irony just mediocrity. Katie tells Micah “the camera is the problem,” and she’s right. Just cause it looks homemade, and even if it was cheap to make, doesn’t forgive derivative amateurism.