UPDATE: Now you can watch the “Katie Myers” ending to Paranormal Activity!
[WARNING: This Article Contains HEAVY SPOILERS!!!]
So by now a lot of you have ventured out (and I do mean “ventured”) to see Oren Peli’s low-budget ghost story flick, Paranormal Activity. Ever since we posted an early review and the latest theatrical trailer, Paranormal Activity has become one of the hottest topics on our site. However, viewers seem split over whether the film is one of the best horror entries in recent years, or an over-hyped ripoff that couldn’t scare a ten-year-old.
Well, anybody who’s been following the Paranormal Activity knows that it took Oren Peli and his producing partners almost two years to get the film into a theater near you. And along that long journey, the film was cut and recut into the version we all saw in theaters. But how different were earlier versions of Paranormal Activity? Well, for one thing, the header image above was part of an alternate ending from an earlier version of the film – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg…
Love it or hate it, you should at least be aware of what Paranormal Activity might’ve been. If you loved the film, you may rejoice at the fact the old version was changed; if you hated it, maybe some info about the alternate cuts and endings will persuade you to check extra bits when they are (presumably) released on DVD/Blu-ray.
Either way, this is some interesting info about a much-debated film, so let’s get into it.
[FINAL WARNING, HEAVY, HEAVY, SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!]
HOW WAS THE FILM RECUT?
According to Horror Squad, the earlier cut of Paranormal Activity had a much slower setup and less chemistry between leads Micah and Katie. Added to the theatrical version were more scenes of “play” between the couple (like Micah bringing the camera into the bedroom for a little romp in the sheets), as well as some daylight “haunting scenes” (Katie’s keys being thrown on the floor and the couple’s hanging photograph being smashed in), which were added to crank up the demon’s fright factor. When [ONE LAST SPOILER ALERT!!!] Katie starts to really slip into the darkside near the end, the filmmakers added some digital tweaking to her voice to make it sound more possessed.
Horror Squad also reports that Peli and Co. originally shot about 70 hrs of “home footage” and even went back later to re-shoot some scenes. The running guestimate is that some of the “coupling scenes” were drawn from that original footage, while the daylight “scare scenes” were later re-shot and then added to the film. The sequencing of the demon attacks was also rearranged into escalating scale (instead of a random assortment of sheet pulls, drags and door slams). Finally, that heavy bass reverberation during the haunting scenes was added to the track as a signal to viewers that the demon was present.
VERDICT: There are a LOT of you out there (haters AND lovers) who held the criticism that Paranormal Activity started out too slowly. So if earlier versions of the film had an even slower buildup, and the only new bits added were scenes to make the lead characters more relatable, as well as some additional fright bits, I’d say the version we got in theaters was something of an improvement, wouldn’t you?
WHAT WERE THE ALTERNATE ENDINGS?
This is the big question. The ending we got in the theatrical cut of Paranormal Activity had Micah rushing downstairs to save a shrieking Katie, followed by sounds of Micah’s own screams being cut short, heavy stomps on the stairwell and then the “money shot” of Micah’s body flying into the camera while possessed Katie stands over his corpse, sniffs it, and then lunges at the camera. IMHO it was a pretty satisfying climax – albeit one that was stupidly ruined by the teaser trailer for the film. Not all of you agree with that sentiment, though, so maybe you’ll have a better opinion of the original ending to Paranormal Activity, or perhaps the alternate endings which were shot after Paramount acquired the film:
- “Katie Myers” — The original ending to Paranormal Activity supposedly had Micah running downstairs to save Katie, sounds of a scuffle, followed by Katie (entranced) returning to the bedroom covered in blood, with bloody knife in hand. Katie then proceeds to sit on the floor rocking backing forth for days on end (see header image); her girlfriend from earlier scenes leaves an answering machine message inquiring where the couple is, eventually stops by and discovers Micah dead. The police rush in and find Katie, who snaps out of her trance, only to be gunned down by the cops when she freaks out on them. The credits dedicate the film to couple, sustaining the “real-life” atmosphere of the movie.
- “Murder, Suicide” — The only alternate ending we have word on was rumored to have been screened just once for audiences. In this alternate climax, Micah rushes downstairs, gets stabbed to death, and Katie returns to the bedroom with the knife and proceeds to slit her own throat in front of the camera. As Horror Squad points out, this ending links back to an earlier scene where Micah threatens to “take care” of the ghost by flashing a large kitchen knife.
VERDICT: For my part I’m glad they changed the original ending: the whole “Katie Myers” angle turns a great ghost story into a routine slasher flick cliche; the catatonic trance for days on end and death-by-police finale seems way too drawn out and not at all scary. On the other hand, the murder/suicide alternate ending seems a bit too hardcore and gratuitous for a film that otherwise seems to value mood and suggestion over buckets of blood and gore.
Finally, the current ending – with the footnote that Katie is still at large – leaves the door open for a new Boogeyman mythos, and, of course, a sequel. Most importantly, the current ending is this best round-off for the themes of demonic possession and supernatural forces at work in the real world, which the rest the film does considerable work to set up.
So there you have it – some of the noted changes that were made to Paranormal Activity. The fimmmakers and studio would be really stupid not to include all these extra bits when they release the movie on DVD/Blu-ray, as I’m sure the film will become even more of a cult-phenomenon as people pick over each and every scene to come up with THEIR best version of the movie.
Speaking of which: are you happy with the current version of Paranormal Activity? Do you see something in those alternate scenes and endings you wish had made it to the theatrical version?
Paranormal Activity is currently showing in many, many theaters and is expected to spread to even more.
Source: Horror Squad