Mark Bishop is not having a good night, and his wife leaving him isn't even the half of it. A serial killer is on the prowl, each murder different from the last, and Mark has just killed an intruder who attacked him in his home. Unsure if the man is the killer or not, Mark just wants to keep the attention off of himself. Dumping the body and avoiding the authorities, after a while he isn't sure what he's running from. Maybe it's just his own paranoia getting to him.
Paranoia is a 2011 film directed by Ryan Mitchelle, written and starring Brad Jones of The Cinema Snob fame. A psychological thriller with horror and mystery elements, the indie movie has all the makings of a cult hit behind it. At least, it certainly has a substantial fanbase to get it kicked off. Jones has said that he drew inspiration for the screen plays of David Lynch, Wes Anderson and Alfred Hitchcock.
An alternate cut of the film, in black and white and closer to Jones's original script, can be viewed for free here.
Given the film's nature as a psychological thriller, MANY of the tropes below are chock full of spoilers. Proceed with caution.
This film provides examples of:
- Always Save the Girl: Played with. Later inverted. Mark couldn't understand what she was doing there. He saved her, in his own way...
- Antihero: Mark. At least, in his recreation of the events of the night.
- Arc Words: Mark's mantra actually changes very slightly with every iteration, which display his growing anxiety.
- Attention Deficit Creator Disorder: The reason Mark is a failed writer is because he never finished any of his projects.
- Black Comedy: "You know, you're lucky. You're up there, I'm down here... At least, I assume you're up there."
- Broken Record: It's just been a really bad night.
- Dead All Along: In hell, people are forced to replay the situation leading up to their deaths over and over again for eternity, and though they can replay it differently each time, they'll never escape.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Mark's flashbacks. Also, the entire Writer's Cut; the film was originally supposed to be in black and white.
- Despair Event Horizon: It wasn't just any killer, Mark.
- Everybody Smokes: But nobody ever seems to have any cigarettes.
- Foreshadowing: Quite a bit, some literal, some symbolic.
- "You're lucky... You're up there, I'm down here..."
- Hell: Self Inflicted, mostly.
- Imaginary Friend: Played with, since Mark's actions are that of a good guy having a bad night, but they're all made up by his tormented soul in hell.
- Ground Hog Day Loop: Not so much for Mark, who re-lives the last few moments of his life over and over and forgets them with each iteration but for Carl who has to explain it to him over and over. Considering Carl is responsible for Mark's Start of Darkness it's his punishment as much as Mark's
- Homage: The movie's plot is very much like Lost Highway
- Homage Shot: When Mark is shot and killed, the shot of his head on the bed is deliberately positioned in the same way as Malcolm McDowell in the final shot of Caligula, which is Brad's favorite movie of all time. Ryan Mitchelle remarked on the commentary that he didn't catch that during filming.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Oh. Yeah. A failed writer in his late 20s can TOTALLY shoot that well.
- The Killer in Me
- Meaningful Name: Charon's Taxi Service. Charon, in Greek mythology, is tasked to ferry souls across the river Styx in the afterlife.
- Mind Rape: Shown in the trailer, though the details of said mind rape are somewhat longer.
- Once More, with Clarity!: Eventually, Carl finally lays it all out, explaining that none of the events of the night are real, they're just Mark's soul in Hell, trying out a different combination to try and get through. Despite getting to see the scenes as they really took place, Carl sure likes talking in circles.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Despite passing out twice, Carl isn't really bleeding all that badly.
- Serial Killer: At the beginning of the movie, Mark turns on the TV to hear a series of news broadcasts about one in the local area, and it's a topic of discussion with several people he meets. it turns out Mark is the serial killer, reliving his experiences in Hell
- Tomato in the Mirror/Wham Line: "You're the killer, Mark."
- Villain Protagonist: Mark is a dead serial killer
- You Can't Go Home Again: Tragically so.