Is Brian De Palma Directing Paranormal Activity 2?

By  · Published on February 26th, 2010

The short answer is probably not. The longer answer is below.

Paramount is on an impossible mission (see what I did there? I referenced an old Commodore 64 game) to find a director worthy of helming a sequel to their blockbuster hit, Paranormal Activity. The original film from first-time director Oren Peli was produced for under a million dollars but went on to gross over a hundred million at the box-office. A profit that size made a sequel inevitable, and the studio has already announced a release date of October 22nd, 2010… less than eight months away.

Per the LA Times’ online movie blog, 24 Frames, Paramount has a list of three names they’re interested in for the job. Brad Anderson, Greg McLean, and Brian De Palma.

One of these names is not like the others…

Anderson’s most recent feature was the thriller Transsiberian starring Emily Mortimer and Woody Harrelson, but his best film remains his own take on the “haunted house” genre, Session 9. McLean hasn’t made any ghost-related movies, but he has directed a couple more traditional horror films with Wolf Creek and Rogue. So both directors have experience with horror, but neither seem particularly suited to a POV “found footage” film like the sequel is bound to be. Anderson seems too polished and McLean too visceral for a movie about ghosts you can’t see scaring the audience with moving doors and light switches.

Which leaves De Palma. We’ll deal with whether or not he’d be good for a low-budget POV horror film in a minute, but first… how is he even on this list? De Palma is the director behind Scarface, The Untouchables, Casualties of War, and Mission: Impossible! These are all big, critically approved studio pictures! How could he end up on a short list as a director for hire on a low-budget horror sequel?

Oh, wait. The answer is further up on his IMDB page. His last three feature films are Femme Fatale, The Black Dahlia, and Redacted with a total gross of under $30 million. Collectively for all three.

So fine, he’s on the short list. But is he at all well suited for this kind of movie? He’s done horror early in his career with films like Carrie, Sisters, and The Fury, and his last film was done POV style. (Hell, he even has a flick called Home Movies, appropriately enough.) Paranormal Activity was fairly narrative-free, uninterested in its actors, and it’s success was purely due to a combination of solid scares and fantastic promotion. That doesn’t leave a lot of creativity room for someone known for anal-retentive, precision camera setups. Especially with an eight month turn around before it’s due in theaters.

Can you see De Palma directing Paranormal Activity 2?

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.