Oren Peli

Chernobyl Diaries review

A well-made horror film can be one of the most enjoyable cinematic experiences a film buff can experience. If the film manages to hook you in the first act, drawing you into its web of a story, it can then ratchet up the tension, keeping you on the edge of your seat until a thrilling climax. Even lesser horror movies, which, let’s face it, is the category most studio horror films fall into these days, can pull off some of those tricks and treats. While “scary” probably isn’t the right word for it anymore, audiences still have a desire to feel something similar in the theater – a desire to be unsettled perhaps. Unfortunately, Bradley Parker‘s Chernobyl Diaries fails at all of this. The plot of the film isn’t so much a plot as it as a horror movie formula. A group of six guys and gals in their twenties (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Jesse McCartney, Olivia Dudley, Devin Kelley, Nathan Phillips, and Jonathan Sadowski) decide to take a trip to the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and to Pripyat, the nearby city where the workers of Chernobyl lived with their families. Since this isn’t a normal tourist destination, their guide is a local Ukrainian named Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko), a big, strapping ex-military type. Yuri’s business is adventure tourism for those industrious souls who want to try to kill themselves while in Europe. Obviously Pripyat and Chernobyl are off-limits to tourists, and so the gate and the guards with the […]

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Channel Guide - Large

Since no new ABC supernatural or sci-fi drama can stand on its own merits, The River has been touted as the latest attempt to replicate the sort of success and intrigue that the network had with Lost—as you may remember, 2009’s Flash Forward and V were both met with the same comparison upon their debuts. The Steven Spielberg-produced series is an adventure-paranormal-horror-thriller hybrid and because one of its creators is Paranormal Activity writer-director Oren Peli, it’s no surprise that the story, set in the spooky, uncharted regions of the Amazon, is presented to us as found footage. “Found footage,” you exclaim, possibly scrunching your face up in disgust. “Does this Peli character realize that there are other ways to frame a story?” Apparently he doesn’t. But that’s okay, because the concept works here, at least in the short term.

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I could probably make this review incredibly brief and make everyone happy. If you liked the first two films you’re likely to like the the third.

I wrote that review while waiting in the line for the men’s room.

Like Paranormal Activity 2, Paranormal Activity 3 is a prequel to its predecessor. It takes place in the month of September of 1988 when the two sisters of the first two films were little girls and the referenced beginning of their experiences with the invisible, kitchen furniture-hating demonic figure began. Seriously, this demon really hates kitchens. I think he hates everything but camcorders.

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The Paranormal Activity franchise has been a big success by just about any measure. Both parts earned huge profits at the box office, and while they have issues there’s no denying both films delivered with some truly frightening scenes. The final twenty minutes of part one (seen above) are pretty damn terrifying. I can still hear Landon Palmer screaming in my ear… This series has quickly eclipsed the Saw films to become an annual Halloween event, and part three hits theaters this October. Original director Oren Peli is onboard as producer and the reins have been handed over to the duo behind last year’s faux-doc about online relationships, Catfish. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman are making their narrative feature debut (technically speaking anyway) with what appears to be a prequel set in the 1980s. The two sisters, each of whom faced unseen tormentors in parts one and two, are now shown as young girls via home movies as they first come into contact with the paranormal entity that will eventually haunt them as adults. Check out the trailer below.

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The rules vocalized by Notorious BIG regarding the amount of money you have and its direct correlation to the amount of problems you have also applies to movies. It’s no doubt that someone, somewhere is aching to see a sequel to the ridiculously high-grossing Insidious based solely on how much gold it brought into the coffers. Fortunately, producer Jason Blum doesn’t seem too keen on jumping into the deep end just for the sake of cashing in. He had this to say to Shock Til You Drop: “I wouldn’t say we’re not considering it. “There’s no plan, no release date, nothing like that. I think James [Wan] feels the same as Oren [Peli]. Oren was very skeptical about doing a sequel to Paranormal Activity until Michael [Perry] pitched an idea and it made sense. If Leigh [Whannell] comes up with a story that’s inventive and you feel like there’s a story to tell – as opposed to ‘let’s make another movie and make money’ – and he comes up with something James feels is worth making we would do it. And if Leigh doesn’t, we won’t.” Always pleasing to hear. It doesn’t mean that a sequel (if one ever gets made) will be good – it’s not like Paranormal Activity 2 was anything special, and they apparently waited for “an idea” that “made sense.” But, at least it shuns the practice of shoving a sequel into pre-production and setting a release date regardless of whether the creative types want to […]

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When Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) move into a new house with their three children, they see it as an opportunity for the life they always wanted. Renai can get back to writing music and be a full-time mom for her family, and the kids have all the space they could ever want. Unfortunately some of that space appears to be occupied by malevolent ghosts. What do they want? How can this family rid themselves of their worst nightmare? Why does that ghost look like Darth Maul? On the one hand, writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan have given us a solid film with some remarkably unsettling imagery sure to haunt the nightmares of even the most jaded horrorphiles. On the flip side, they have given us one of the loudest, most obnoxiously lazy horror films in years. This paradox eats at me as I desperately wanted to like Insidious and frankly the potential it displays alludes to a film that could have easily made my list of favorites of the year. Sadly, that potential is squandered in cheap thrills and hackneyed conventions.

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After invisibly slamming doors against the faces of the movie-going public with a modern day ghost story, director Oren Peli is getting a bit more traditional with his next project. He’ll be adapting “The System of of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether,” which either means he’s making a film version of an Edgar Allen Poe short story or of a funky single from The Alan Parsons Project. Apparently it’s the former (since we’ve already ruled out credit going to the Edgar Alan Poe-sons Project), and apparently they’re changing the name (since that whole thing won’t fit on a title card) to simply Eliza Graves. The original story is a black comedic take on the lunatics taking over the loony bin, and the synopsis for the film seems to at least follow the bread crumbs home there. According to Variety, the plot focuses on a recent medical school graduate who begins working at an insane asylum without knowing that it’s been taken over by the inmates. The goosebumps are already forming. Specifically because Mel Gibson is executively producing.

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As you may have noticed by now, we are at Fantastic Fest 2010 covering the most fierce genre festival experience this side of the Atlantic Ocean. During a screening last night though, our managing editor Cole Abaius was minding his own business, about to partake in a few adult beverages and a movie with at least one castration scene, when an Alamo Drafthouse waiter delivered unto him a mysterious package from an address in New Hampshire. Inside was a flash drive containing a video that clearly has something to do with Paranormal Activity 2. It features a baby walking backwards down a set of stairs and of course, at least one little surprise. It’s pretty creepy, especially if you combine it with some of the other videos that showed up on the doorsteps of our friends at Bloody Disgusting, UGO and others. (The UGO guys found a package in their hotel room at Fantastic Fest. That’s creepy enough, right there.) Check out our exclusive prize after the jump.

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Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli announced today via a note to fans on the film’s official site that Kip Williams, director of The Door in the Floor, has signed on to take the reins of the upcoming sequel, Paranormal Activity 2.

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Fans demanded Paranormal Activity be set free and allowed to scare them senseless. But first, they must all watch this new trailer.

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Kevin Carr takes a look at this week’s movie releases, including Couple’s Retreat, Paranormal Activity and Toy Story & Toy Story 2 in 3D Double Feature.

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This Friday, Paramount Pictures will continue to push the box office smash Paranormal Activity further and wider… Also, director Oren Peli is planning his next movie. Ooh, scary.

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