"Paranormal Activity" too scary for Italians

ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s government is mulling whether to slap restrictions on horror thriller “Paranormal Activity” after some movie-goers suffered panic attacks, sparking protests by children’s and consumer groups.

Emergency services in Naples were called in at the weekend by people complaining of palpitations and anxiety after watching the film, the nearly bloodless story of a young couple trying to capture video evidence of a supernatural presence in their home.

One 14-year-old girl was in such a state of shock that she had to be given oxygen outside the cinema, Corriere della Sera daily reported.

Culture Minister Sandro Bondi noted that the film had been given the green light by a committee that decides on age bans for movies, adding however that he was considering possible measures to protect children.

The low-budget movie, a U.S. production directed by Israeli-born Oren Peli, has become an international hit especially with young people and was released in Italy on Friday, screening in 385 cinemas with no viewer restrictions.

Consumer group Codacons has threatened to go to the courts on behalf of minors who may find the film too frightening, while Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said the film’s trailer should not be aired on television when children could see it.

“It’s an anxiety-generating film that is sparking panic attacks and psychological problems among young people,” said Alessandra Mussolini, a right-wing politician who heads a parliamentary committee on the rights of children.

“If it’s too late to impose an age ban, we should put in place some sort of warning, particularly for parents, so that they are aware of the risks,” she said.

Editing by Steve Addison