Back in 2009, following the unexpected success of Paranormal Activity—which sat on the shelf for two years before its release—the film’s director Oren Peli used his sudden blush of Hollywood clout to begin production on another top-secret, found footage horror film. That film was Area 51 and it’s been sitting on the shelf ever since.
Producer Jason Blum has been running interference for the lost project in the intervening years, doing his best to explain why a low-budget movie like this was gathering dust while four Paranormal Activity sequels all beat it to theaters, each multiplying their meager budgets, despite a precipitous decline in quality (except for PA 3, which is still a lot of fun). The logic was tortured. “Paranormal Activity sat on the shelf for a few years before it came out,” Blum reasoned, excluding the fact that Paramount had purchased that film strictly to be remade, with no plans to ever release the original.
Mostly though, we got radio silence. It seemed like this was just a misconceived project, scrapped because it was an easy enough write-off for the studio. And suddenly…
Area 51 is coming out on May 15th in 16 Alamo Drafthouse theaters and simultaneously on VOD. Three weeks from now.
You know how I called the Batman v Superman trailer “unceremoniously dumped”? Yeah, sorry about that.
I know I’ve talked about it before, but lost projects are just so much more interesting than the real thing. I’m not saying this is The Day The Clown Cried or Kubrick’s Napoleon, but it existed in a pleasant headspace for me and now it doesn’t. It had the dignity of being a probably-awful-but-we’ll-never-know mystery to…well, watch that trailer. It’s not looking so good.