Saw 3D v. Paranormal Activity 2

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Elizabeth Contreras

Being one of the many theatres to play Paranormal Activity 2 and Saw 3D, Kirkorian had many costumers as the two movies premier. Paranormal Activity 2 grossed $21.1 million beating Saw 3D’s $14.1 million by the weekend of Halloween.

Brandon Pineda

With only one major release on Halloween weekend, it is tempting to simply predict a first-place finish for Saw 3D and take off. However, the Halloween weekend’s feud between two horror films — Lionsgate’s seventh (and hopefully last) Saw entry and Paramount’s holdover Paranormal Activity 2 —wounded closer than expected. For one thing, there is bad blood between the two franchises. When Saw VI opened last year on Oct. 23 –its weekend victory was all but assured– especially considering that since Saw II, every Saw movie debuted to at least $30 million. However, under-dog Paranormal Activity, with its $15,000 budget, expanded wide and amputated Saw VI‘s box-office prowess. Paranormal Activity grossed $21.1 million that weekend while Saw VI had to settle for second place with $14.1 million (and a series-low domestic total of $27.7 million).

1. Saw 3D

The wild-card element at play is 3-D. If everyone who saw Saw VI comes out for Saw 3D and pays the exorbitant 3-D surcharge, that would result in a sizable bump. Saw 3D should also benefit from being advertised as the final entry in the franchise. Moviegoers who saw only the first two or three Saw films may still be curious to discover how the whole series ends. Despite these selling points, however, Saw appears to be a (horrible pun intended) dying series. In 2004, when the original Saw released, audiences demanded a sequel. Saw II delivered what the fans wanted: more gore, terrifying predicaments, and plot progression. However, Since Saw II, each successive film has cumulatively earned less than its predecessor. Saw III, to most moviegoers, was the end of the torture franchise. However, Lionsgate pushed for another set of movie developing a giant, convoluted plot. The presumed ending of the franchise, Saw 3D, lacks in substance. The effects were irrelevant. Though the movie was shot in 3D, the audience only experienced bits and pieces of the esthetic, Avatar-esque effects. And 3-D doesn’t seem to have quite the same pull it had six months ago.

2. Paranormal Activity 2

Considering how front-loaded Paranormal Activity 2‘s record-breaking $40.7 million weekend was, the film would likely be facing a significant drop even if Saw 3D wasn’t opening this weekend. The demon thriller, though it kept audiences shivering behind their sweaters, lacked in attendance. The movie was terrifying in regards to demons, not effects. Audiences did not want to see the same movie they saw in 2009. In classic fashion, Paranormal Activity 2 repeats its predecessor on a slightly bigger scale to considerably lesser effect. Part of the disappointment can be attributed to the larger scale of the sequel; the multiple-camera approach cuts down on the anticipatory tension created by the single point-of-view in the original. It doesn’t help that, like most sequels, Paranormal Activity 2’s story is largely a rehash of its predecessor. Events proceed largely as they did in Paranormal Activity, with the same progression from small scares (oh my god, that door moved!) to big ones (Oh my god, Kristi got dragged down the stairs!). The filmmakers also take steps down the same road that ruined the Saw franchise, attempting to expand on the established mythology—here it’s implied that Katie and Kristi’s mother is to blame for attracting the attention of the demon that bedevils them—to the point where it stops making sense.

Despite this cautionary preamble, Saw 3D amputates Paranormal Activity 2. The audience did not want to see the same film. Paranormal Activity 2 delivered the same scares and the same delivery. Saw 3D, though its plot is convoluted and out of place, the torture traps (prepare for another horrible pun) are to die for.