Review By: Chrstopher Kearns @Thezeconline
July 19th, 2012
Have you ever watched a film, about a documentary, about a TV show that isn't real? "Supernatural Activity" is precisely what it says it is, a return to spoof films that pay homage to classic and new horror films alike while giving it a flair and story not seen today. Can "Supernatural Activity" achieve film-making success in an area of comedy that has been plagued with films that have consistently underperformed?
Directed by Derek Lee Nixon ("When in Rome") and written by M. Art Twain, "Supernatural Activity," tells the tale of Damon Dealer (Andrew Pozza, "A Schizophrenic Love Story"), a highly popular and cocky illusionist. Damon, along with his team of paranormal investigators, is set to embark upon a quest to a Native American burial ground. Damon, however, has an ulterior motive; he wishes to expose to the world that his show "Supernatural Activity" is fake through a documentary being filmed called "Freaky Fraud-Day."
Filming "Freaky Fraud-Day" is the documentary film-maker adventurer Tuck Thomas (Philip Marlatt, "Hallettsville"). Now while it may sound strange, Tuck Thomas is also being filmed as there is another movie being made about his documentary. Many brains will be melted during the first six minutes of this film. Eventually, Damon's plans go awry when his team is forced to travel to Hickville, Texas in order to investigate the dreaded tickle-monster, the Smallsquatch. Through a hilarious chain of events, Damon and his team are forced to learn that the things that go bump in the night are more than just figments of an overactive imagination.
What makes this film so much fun to watch is the acting. Every character was cast to perfection, and each actor has time to shine. Typically, in independent films, there are clear weak links in the acting but not in "Supernatural Activity." Each actor managed to capture their character flawlessly and executed their craft with zeal. Brock Hass (Donny Boaz, "Great Debaters," "Deep in the Heart"), the teen heart-throb of the group, never lets the audience forget that he looks better than everyone, and that he maintains a low body-fat percentage. While conversely, Pepper Shepard (Joey Oglesby, "Friday Night Lights") is an extreme red-neck with a Jesus loving edge that feels the need to smite evil in the name of the Lord with a shotgun. Blair Woods (Lidy Bisanz), whose name shouldn't be too hard to figure out, is the team's psychic, Damon's love interest, and the single greatest motivating factor for Damon's actions. Doug (Devin Bonnee, "My Sucky Teen Romance") is the group's camera man, and resident pot-head. His words may be few, but they are certainly memorable. These characters, when all put together, create quite the ghost-busting team. Bringing Damon and his crew to Hickville is Dewey (Tim Ogletree), an overzealous fan of Damon's show, who is the victim of extreme abuse by his girlfriend Mitzy (Liz Waters, "Virus").
One of the strongest aspects of this film is the sheer amount of jokes and references to other films that are intertwined in the narrative. Only the most dedicated, knowledgeable, hardcore fans of TV and film will be able to catch every reference. "Supernatural Activity" has something for everyone, including "Where's Waldo?" fans if you have a keen eye.
Speaking of the narrative, "Supernatural Activity" has good story structure that can be followed without effort. Unlike a variety of other films in the spoof sub-genre of comedy where the plot is sacrificed for the sake of making as many jokes as possible like "Epic Movie" or "Disaster Movie." Typical parody films such as "Airplane" or "Spaceballs" follow a one movie parody limit. These films contain within them pop-culture references of the time and vague references to other films in their genre, "Supernatural Activity," on the other hand, breaks this mold. This film goes above and beyond to weave the ultimate parody movie complete with a well-developed plot based on an assortment of films such as "The Last Exorcism," "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "Cloverfield," "The Blair Witch Project," and of course "Paranormal Activity." However, the mixing of this vast number of films can lead to the story feeling a bit oddly paced at times.
Unfortunately, this film isn't perfect, to be fair though, very few films are without flaws. Supernatural Activity's greatest weakness is the length of some of the jokes. Timing, delivery and length can make or break a joke; for instance, there is a lengthy scene which parodies "Paranormal Activity" and its infamous static bedroom camera angle. The visual jokes during this scene are fantastic, but the scene goes on slightly too long for comfort. Another scene where a sťance is performed also takes a lengthy amount of time to finish and has little pay off outside of some minor childlike humor. Now, while these scenes are a riot and did make me laugh at times, the jokes over stayed their welcome and broke their own comedic effects.
Additionally, the story, while being present, can be slightly disjointed. The Smallsquatch plot takes a back seat for a time during a parody of "The Last Exorcism" only to return later as a little person in a big-foot costume. Don't get me wrong, this sub-plot was beyond hilarious and serves the dual purpose of showing Damon that spirits and demons are real and to make the audience laugh. However, this scene affected the pacing of the film. In addition, some plot elements seem to wrap-up fairly quickly and without warning, such as Damon's proposal to Blair just before the conclusion of the film and again when the Smallsquatch is finally seen after being forgotten momentarily.
In the end, "Supernatural Activity" makes the audience laugh, so it does what it sets out to do. The film has a joke for everyone and maintains a quality not seen in spoof films since the days of "Spaceballs," or "Airplane." This spoof film wasn't made with the intent of gaining Oscars. "Supernatural Activity" was made to make you laugh and tell a story along the way, and it does exactly that.