Saturday, October 10, 2009

PA: Original Cut vs Current Release

[spoilers ahoy]

Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli explains that there were actually many different endings shot, even more than the three already mentioned. However, he says most were not screened publicly. He also states that the police ending was in fact the original ending while the suicide ending was a rare alternate ending shown publicly only once. This may be completely subjective but my impression from the interview is that Peli is quite fond of the latter ending and that we may see some sort of special alternate version on the DVD:

Your first draft of the movie was done in 2007. As far as your involvement since then has there been much refinement or has the film been mainly just sitting?

There has been some editing after a few test screening results in order to make the film a bit quicker and shorter, as we had some issues with pacing. So we tried to fix them, hopefully we did. That was the main part of it. Also, we shot the ending. That was the only real significant change.

I've heard varying numbers as to how many alternate endings there are. How many did you actually film?

Well I filmed a whole bunch, but most of them no one has ever seen, they were just for my own options. There was one ending that was shown at some festivals, and then another ending that was shown publicly only the one time. And then the current ending, which we've had for more than a year now.

Can you explain what those other two endings were or is that something we'll see find out later? [Possible Spoiler Alert]

The original ending... I'll just say very briefly, the movie ends with cops entering the house to find the scene of the crime. The other one...there's been some talks about it on the internet, but I'd like to keep quiet on it for now. Maybe one day we'll see them all on the special edition DVD.

Once it was picked up for distribution, were there any other reshoots other than the ending?

There were a couple of little things that came up on their own that weren't suggested by DreamWorks and some were a little suggested as areas of improvement, so we shot them and they turned out great and now they're in the movie. The ending was the one thing we had a lot of criticism about from the original version, so we knew we wanted to come up with something a little bit better.




To find out more about what was changed (aside from the ending) from the rare alternate version to the current release version, I spoke to someone who had seen both cuts:

They cut about 10 minutes of early night scenes and one day time conversation that gave you a little more insight into the characters and their relationship so you cared about them more. They were scenes of conversation between Micah and Katie in their bathroom area.

They also cut out some of Micah's viewing of the nighttime audio and video footage and in the version I saw, he hears more sounds and strange languages.

Most of the changes are technical: They CGI'd the scene where Katie is pulled out of bed, they put in a noise before the demon would do something in the nighttime scenes, and they made the demon's shadows on the door much more pronounced. In the version I saw, it was dead silent during the night scenes so you didn't get a warning before something scary would happen like you get in the released version and some of the shadows and things were subtle so you aren't sure what you really saw, which made it much scarier.

Also, they toned down the scene where Katie's hair is blown around while she's at the staircase. In the version I saw, it was more pronounced and her hair is smacked around (almost like she is being slapped by the demon) whereas now you almost don't even notice her hair moves if you aren't looking for it.

The person I spoke to also really liked the new ending of Micah thrown against the camera but hated the bit that followed where Katie smiles and morphs her face and we are then told her whereabouts are unknown.

UPDATE
The blog The Horror Effect has an even more detailed look at the changes made to the original cut. Among some of the scenes removed is a particularly terrifying exorcism scene:

The exorcism video. When Micah finds the website about the exorcism that went wrong, he watches a video that was leaked out by a priest to inform people that exorcisms don’t always go well. In the video, the possessed woman actually bites off her own arm. It was very disturbing and I was sad to see the scene go. I understand why it was removed. They probably didn’t want to overshadow the later events, making them seem less severe.


For more about what was added and removed click here.

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