I love Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. But that’s only because I gave myself a plot-lobotomy and revised the ending to one that doesn’t sabotage the previous 120 minutes or the appealingly balanced comic book reality of the series.
The films are glorious fantasy, but there’s something about the blatant dumb-faced alien at the end that jarrs so spectacularly, not to mention the farce of how it manifests. I always loved the mystery of the paranormal in Indiana Jones. Like Blair Witch, it’s what you don’t see which captures the imagination so much.
Last night I watched Paranormal Activity. It’s an 83 minute composed, assured scarefestival that blends heart-thudding suspense with sudden shocks. But in a matter of seconds all this good work is thrown out the window by a run-of-the-mill ending that smacks of a loss of creative confidence.
In short, possesed girlfriend gets out of bed, goes downstairs, screams (fantastic screaming) and boyfriend leaps after her into the dark. More screams. Then silence. Except, thud, thud, something coming up the stairs. Boyfriend is launched backwards across the room into the camera, knocking it over.
Girlfriend is revealed in the doorway. She creeps toward his body, then crawls and hunkers over him like an animal (or, hey! A daemon!) before turning to the camera, leering and lunging toward the lens as her face becomes twisted into an unnatural grimace (oh, hey! A daemon!). Oh, spoilers.
The body-hurl is great, but the clomp-clomp possessed girlfriend and that stupid X-Files-intro face just stink. Up to now the whole film has been mystery, suspense, horror in the unknown, the events on screen leaving terrifying room for your imagination to fill in the gaps. Cue stretch-face and it’s just a genre flick. You might as well watch a vampire movie.
So, because it’s actual writing for once and not moaning about mobile phones, I thought I’d script a better ending…
INT. THE BEDROOM – NIGHT, 2AM
KATIE slowly gets out of bed and stands.
She turns to face MIKA who is still sleeping. Mika’s bedsheet is pulled away by an unseen force.
Katie turns and slowly walks toward CAMERA, then out of shot as she passes behind the camera and begins to pull it off the tripod.
Katie lifts the camera from the tripod and viewpoint begins to move toward Mika in bed, remaining completely steady throughout. From this point on, Katie is controlling the camera from O.S.
Camera approaches Mika and angles down into his face. The CAMERA FLASHLIGHT is switched on, waking Mika up.
Mika wearily opens his eyes, lifts his hand to his face.
Katie? What’s going on?
There’s no response. The camera gets closer to Mika’s face. He is blinded by the flashlight.
Katie, turn the light off, I can’t see.
Camera flashlight is abruptly turned off. Mika squints up at the camera. As his eyes begin to become accustomed to the dark he freezes.
What the fuck? Katie, what the fuck?
There is an UNEARTHLY SHRIEK from Katie’s direction O.S., and Mika pushes the camera away.
The camera falls to the floor still pointing at the bed, and we see Mika desperately SCRAMBLE from the bed and out of the bedroom door, screaming.
Katie, oh fuck, oh Katie!
We hear Mika fall down the stairs. He yelps in pain.
Katie’s foot briefly comes into shot. She picks up the camera and points it at the door.
Katie, please. Jesus!
O.S. We hear Mika on the staircase trying to get up. We hear him crash down the next set of steps.
The camera slowly approaches the doorway.
The camera reaches the stairs and points down them. There is blood on the wall at the foot of the first set of stairs.
We see Mika’s shape move out of shot and into the living room. He is hysterical and crying.
Camera smoothly descends the stairs. The living room chandelier is swinging. O.S. we hear Mika attempting to open the patio door, but it’s locked.
All the lights downstairs come on at once and then immediately blow out.
Oh fuck, Katie, no, no.
The camera continues down the stairs, making no sound. Mika cries out in pain and fear.
INT. LIVING ROOM
As the camera enters the living room we can hear Mika sobbing O.S.
The camera slowly pans to point at the kitchen.
The camera moves towards the kitchen counter, then around it. We see Mika huddled behind the counter.
Katie makes no sound while moving with the camera and Mika is unaware that she is now behind him. He sobs, quietly.
No, no, no, no.
The camera is now situated directly behind Mika. The flashlight switches on. Mika spins and squints into the light.
No! Katie, don’t!
His voice is swallowed up by a DISTORTED ROAR as the camera charges towards him. It crashes into Mika and is thrown to the ground where it falls on its side, pointing at the kitchen wall. O.S. Mika is screaming. The house shakes.
Mika’s shrieks are strangled abruptly. A hand falls into shot. The house stops shaking.
The hand begins to move. It is Katie.
Mika? Mika? What’s going on?
Katie gets up but cannot see in the dark. She bangs into the kitchen counter, knocking something over which smashes on the floor.
Mika? Help me, please, Mika!
Katie is crying. She stumbles into the camera.
Katie bends down and picks the camera up. We see her face briefly. She looks normal. She is wailing.
Mika?! Mika! Please!
Katie turns on the camera flashlight and pans around the kitchen. We see Mika’s body, broken and folded up into the corner.
No! No! Mika! Oh, please, no!
She rushes to Mika and kneels down, putting the camera aside. She holds him and cries hysterically, screaming.
From this viewpoint we can see Katie’s legs and one of Mika’s hands in shot. Behind Katie’s legs we can see that she knocked over a glass jar of pasta. It is scattered across the kitchen floor.
Katie sobs into Mika’s body.
Something CRUNCHES into the scattered pasta.
Katie stops crying. She turns around.
A handprint is suddenly pressed into the skin of Katie’s leg and she is jerked onto her back.
Katie is dragged along the floor by her legs and into the kitchen counter. Stunned, she rolls over, screaming, and her hands find the camera.
She lifts the camera and points the flashlight towards her legs.
We can clearly see where something invisible is gripping her right thigh and calf. Cuts have appeared where she is gripped, like deep scratches.
Katie is pulled violently across the kitchen floor and into the wall. She drops the camera. It rolls over and points out of the kitchen, back towards Katie.
We see her dragged from the kitchen. She is screaming and clutching at the wall.
No! Help me!
Katie is dragged out of shot. She continues to scream and shriek.
We hear an INHUMAN SCREAM. A door SLAMS.
There is silence.