Oren Peli, the creator of Paranormal Activity and producer of the franchise, speaks to Flickering Myth about the series and the latest (and final) chapter, The Ghost Dimension…
Back in 2006, writer/director Oren Peli dreamed of making a film based on his own experiences with the paranormal and supernatural. Three years after the film was in production, the world was first introduced to Paranormal Activity, and a horror franchise colossus was born, although it was never intended as such.
Speaking to Flickering Myth Senior Staff Writer Scott J. Davis this week, Peli spoke about the film, the franchise and whether Steven Spielberg has ever seen the entire catalogue after his experiences with the first film.
On the franchise, Peli said “When we shot the first one, there was enough difficulty getting the film into cinemas, let alone ever thinking that we would be discussing a sixth film! I never thought we’d be here years later… There was never any plans for sequels, it was a one-off. Micah was dead, Katie was gone, but then writer Michael R. Perry (screenwriter of Ryan Reynolds-starrer The Voices) came up with a great idea for a sequel, and then a third idea came along and so on…”
Released in 2009, Paranormal Activity ended up grossing over $193 million worldwide on its miniature $15,000 budget, and the sequel was released a year later, grossing $177.5 million. (Paranormal Activity 3 holds the worldwide franchise no.1 with $207 million.)
The new film, the sixth, released this Halloween, has been a few years coming, with Peli saying that they “wanted to get it right” and that the film is “definitely the final part.”
“It was a little more difficult to do this one” continued Peli, “[Ghost Dimension] allows us to explore where the Hunter comes from and explore a new family.” When asked if they had planned to continue the franchise past this instalment, Peli said that they never thought past this one and wanted to “finish the story.”
Such is the success of the franchise that many suitors have tried to claim the found – footage crown from him and co-producer Jason Blum’s films. But Peli doesn’t believe it was he who started the whole fad, merely resuscitated it back to life.
“The Blair Witch Project was the start of it” Peli said, adding that it was that film that “is the benchmark. That’s the kind of movie I wanted to make, like Blair Witch“. Asked about the found-gootgae sub-genre, Peli continued that he does try to watch any “competitors”: “I do watch some of them…Some work, some don’t…”
As producer of the final five films, Peli has said that that he does hope to direct again, after having trouble with his last film, Area 51, which after many problems got a small release this year. “I hope to direct again, but keep things about my future plans quite private and secret. I never like to say too much about what’s next.”
Finally, after it was some words of wisdom and help from Steven Spielberg on the first film, and indeed its ending, had the legendary filmmaker seen any of the sequels after the first scared him so much? “I don’t know. He saw the first and I think he may have seen the sequel. Would be interesting to hear if he had seen the others though!”
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is released on October 21st.
Our thanks to Paramount Pictures and Oren Peli for the interview and their time.
Scott Davis is Senior Staff Writer at Flickering Myth and co-host of The Flickering Myth Podcast.