On paper, those familiar with the buzzed-about Sundance doc Catfish (read my review here) may laugh at the comparison to Paranormal Activity. In fact, I joked around a lot at Sundance because I felt that after every midnight film screened, some blogger was calling it "the next Paranormal Activity." And while Catfish -- which is a doc about a New York photographer who strikes up a strange but endearing relationship with an 8-year-old artist on Facebook -- may not seem like it has anything to do with the fictional, Blair-Witch-like ghost story, if marketed correctly the doc could turn into one of the most talked-about films of 2010.
The Twitter world is buzzing today because Paramount is rumored to be screening Catfish in Los Angeles tomorrow (news I first heard via Alex from First Showing), and on the invite it asks for people who have seen and enjoyed films like Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, Up in the Air, Slumdog Millionaire, Inconvenient Truth, Where the Wild Things Are and District 9. It's important to note that Paramount has not picked up Catfish yet, nor has anyone else (one imagines negotiations are fierce right now), but seeing as the movie comes packaged with a big reveal and a few very fascinating twists and turns, it would appear as if it's the perfect film for the folks at Paramount to turn their marketing mavens loose on.
Yes, it's unfortunate that the film will be approached like this, but in a post-Paranormal Activity world, studios need to find unique ways to market smaller, buzzy films -- and if Catfish comes with one of those "shhh, don't reveal the ending" vibes, then you bet they're going to latch onto that and sell it till the sun comes up.
Realistically, though, it's not the movie event of the year -- and if they sell it as such I'm sure a lot of you will leave the theater with more than one WTF up your sleeve -- but it's definitely the best doc I saw at Sundance (there are more layers here than I was wearing in the arctic-like temps at the festival), and the one that's sticking with me the most.
Fact is that whoever picks this up has a very special film in their collection, and while they can totally sell the mystery with words like "You'll never believe how it ends!", I just hope that they treat it with respect and that audiences come away debating the many different stories found within the film instead of crying foul over a marketing campaign that may have sold them a different experience.