Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Italy spooked by Paranormal Activity

By Duncan Jones
BBC News correspondent in Rome

Paranormal Activity
The film's frights come courtesy of a night-vision camera

"Paranormal Activity" has just opened here in Italy with a seductive publicity campaign.

The TV adverts are, themselves, powerful little films enticing audiences to go and see it.

The creepy clips juxtapose extracts from the film with type-written words from the critics, saying things like "unnerving" or " genuinely shocking".

The ads end with a pounding music track and ever-quickening edits that climax with a husky-voiced announcer claiming that Paranormal Activity is the film that "terrorised all America".

It rather reminds me of the adverts many years ago for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. It began with a similar voice over, "the tide of terror that swept America is here.... The Shining!"

It was enough to hook me and my friends, who dashed off to the nearest cinema to enjoy 90 edge-of-seat minutes.

In Italy's case, Paranormal Activity has lead to several people actually toppling off the edge of their seats.

One 14-year-old girl in Naples had to be given oxygen by paramedics, she was in such a state.

And now the fuss has reached the government.

Age ban

One minister said the film trailer should not be aired on TV at a time when children could see it.

A consumer group has threatened to go to court to get the film restricted to adults only (at the moment it is on general release with no viewer restrictions).

And Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of the country's former fascist dictator, said if it was too late to impose an age ban, then the film should be shown with some sort of warning, so that parents know the risks.

Paranormal Activity
UK critics called the low-budget horror "brilliantly upsetting"

Publicists for the film must be in horror heaven, given all the free publicity it's getting. Word-of-mouth could very soon become money-in-bank, if it continues like this.

We've been here many times before. I can also recall similar concerns about A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist and Pink Flamingoes.

Many people complained without even seeing them.

And those that did may have been shocked, but few required the assistance of paramedics on the pavements outside cinemas (though I do remember that, when I first saw Pink Flamingoes, so many people walked out in disgust, they would have overwhelmed any waiting paramedics!)

People of all ages love to be scared at the cinema or on TV sets in their homes.

Some, it seems, are a little more sensitive than others.

They should be respected. But it should still be Boo! Not boo-hoo!

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