The ins and outs of it

So, I finally got round to watching Paranormal Activity today (I haven’t done the whole Murdoch media empire thing since the Wapping dispute all those years ago).  I had to watch it in full daylight, with the curtains open, and I still found it terrifying, even as I was laughing at its gleeful torture of its audience (not to mention its characters).  Actually, my over-riding impression of it afterwards (and I realise that this is probably a way off-centre reading of it*) is that it’s a very heartening film.  Do you too have a boyfriend who won’t respect your boundaries or take you at your word and wants to film you in the bedroom all the time?  A demon in the home could be just the ticket….

Anyway, I was really struck by all the invitations (camera, ouija board, microphone, threats, taunts…) that said boyfriend keeps extending to the entity.  That reminded me of the rule that no vampire film I’ve ever seen contradicts: A vampire cannot enter your home unless you invite her/him in.  Why is it that so much of the horror genre is obsessed with invasion of the home or body (and provides such rich pickings for psychology)?  Why is it that boundaries and thresholds and invitations to cross them are so potent?  Why do humans have so many threshold gods? (Sorry, Wikipedia, liminal deities).

‘We are physical beings, bounded and set off from the rest of the world by the surface of our skins, and we experience the rest of the world as outside us.  Each of us is a container, with a bounding surface and an in-out orientation.’

Lakoff and Johnson, 1980, Metaphors We Live By, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, p.29.

Does it all come back, plain and simple, to the fact that we humans are made of meat?

*I know, I know.  The film is still utilising that tired old trope of the permeable, corruptable (corrupted?) female (I refer you to Marina Warner’s writings about leaky sieves in Monuments and Maidens).

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7 thoughts on “The ins and outs of it

  1. Oh dear, I thought P-Activ was awful! I couldn’t have been more unconvinced by anything that happened. But look, more sequels upcoming! Enough, already! Now go away and make some better films.
    However, millions loved it. That’s that!

  2. It says above that my comment is awaiting ‘moderation!’ Ok, the film was fabulous, hope that’s ok.

      1. Hi Meryl, I may have more quickly responded but WordPress forgot my username and password 5 times! Maybe there’s some paranormal act…. oh hang on! Another thing struck me about the film was that I imagined the Marx Bros doing this and Harpo exclaiming to the ‘entity’ at 2:00am:
        ‘Have you gotta badge?’ From then on it was goodbye Columbus! May I suggest the film Wadjda which is magnificent. Yeah I know, you’ve seen it right?

  3. Ha, LOVE your Marx Brothers idea. I’m quite irate that I got so spooked by something so patently silly, but, gullible viewer that I am, the least suggestion of wiggly cam or grainy image and something in the back of my head is all ‘Oh it must be real’… go figure!

    Wadjda got great reviews in the papers – good to hear that you bear those out and ta for the recommendation!

  4. I just think that Para-Activ could have been terrific but no excuses needed for being spooked by silliness. We’ve all been there. Another recommendation is The Wall. Is this a feminist tract? I think so and it’s said the book was though not read it yet. It’s part Tarkovsky, part 70’s Herzog. I was the only one in the Renoir watching it! Ah, Superman was in Cinema 2, I see! How could I have missed that!

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