27 Oct

Paranormal Activity 2

Rated: R

Starring: Katie Featherston

Director: Tod Williams

Chris’ Take: Paranormal Activity 2 was walking a very fine line with its release strategy. The success of the first film demanded a sequel and it seemed like Oren Peli decided to take the dangerous route of the Saw franchise and release its sequel within a year of the original. On top of that, the plot decided that instead of moving forward it would take a step back and explain the story from before the first one, which immediately causes it to lose some suspense. With those two factors, it seemed like an impossible task for Paranormal Activity 2 to be a success.

The film opens by introducing Katie’s sister’s family as they move into their new home in San Diego, even re-introducing Katie to the story and pointing out that she lives close by. The story then jumps to about a year later, 60 days before the death of Micah, Katies’ boyfriend. When the family thinks  that break ins are occurring, they add security cameras to their home and watch several strange disturbances unfold. While the disturbances seem small at first, they increasingly grow stronger and more violent and seem to be targeted at their one year child, Hunter.

I must say that the film did a decent job creating suspense in what I thought would be an unsuspenseful prequel. I was wondering how the film would work itself out without Katie getting too freaked out over what happened to her sister’s family, but Williams and Peli did a pretty good job making a clean transition between the two stories.

Additionally, I was wondering how IMAX would create a better experience for the film and I forgot that IMAX is not only about increased picture quality, but also the sound. I saw the first film at home, which kind of makes it scarier, and I think some of the ominous sound of the demon’s presence gets removed because of that. IMAX, however, added to that and created an overall sense of dread, mimicking what it might feel like to just feel evil surrounding you.

Outside of the sound, I thought this film resorted to cheaper thrills than the first. Watching the first one sent chills down my spine watching shadows and objects move, while this one resorted to more jolting forms of fright. While they were mildly effective, some of them were just downright laughable. I did like the fact that there was access to more cameras for this film than the first, but I didn’t like the security camera look of it and preferred more of the narrow view of the hand held camera to create suspense.

After I watched the first one, I did have trouble sleeping because the demon for the most part was left unexplained, and I am going to admit that I was kind of creeped out by it. This film I thought answered too many questions and because of that didn’t seem as scary and didn’t linger with me like the first one. Overall, it was a decent film and it did overcome some of the obstacles it created for itself in the hasty production and being a prequel, but I thought that it could have been a lot better if they had just taken some more time with it. I am sure there will be a Paranormal Activity 3 and I hope it moves more forward in the story than this one did or changes its focus because even though this didn’t live up to the success of the first, it was still one of the more effective forms of horror that is out there.

Characters: B
Cinematography: B-
Directing: B
Performances: B-
Plot: A-
Thrills: B+
Overall: B

Pac’s Take:

Paranormal Activity, while not the first film in the sub-genre, will probably go down in horror history as the seminal work of the documentary sub-genre (I really wish “shockumentary” wasn’t already coined by creepers).  Paranormal Activity 2 attempts to capitalize on everything that made the first movie great, and do what horror sequels are designed to do, one-up the original in terms of violence and terror.  For the most part Paranormal activity 2 succeeded.

The sequel is not as scary as the original.  Let’s be realistic though; the gig is up, you can’t recreate the suspension of doubt surrounding the authenticity of the original (that’s what I thought was scary).  So what does the sequel do instead, it takes you back and it explains why (SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t seen the original) Katie becomes possessed. (SAFE NOW)

There are some things about this film that I thought were downright dumb and/or laughable:

  • The pool vacuum (laugh out loudable)
  • Why install cameras with DVR capability and never look at it when strange things go down?
  • (SPOILER ALERT) if you curse your wife’s sister, don’t live so close to her

For the most part the first two movies are sewn together quite well, there are some pretty cool haunting scenes (my favorite being the kitchen cabinets), and though the pacing of the first 30 minutes is incredibly slow once the film gets going it doesn’t let up.

Paranormal Activity 2 is not a perfect film, and it certainly is not as good as the original, but it’s my favorite horror film of the year; and until I’m able to watch Buried I don’t see another horror film on slate for 2010 that can surpass it.

Side Note: when I search for images on Paranormal Activity 2, I almost exclusively get this image. At no point during the film was this image seen on-screen. (unless I blinked and missed it)

Characters: B-
Cinematography: B+
Directing: B+
Performances: B-
Plot: A-
Thrills: B+
Overall: B+


One Response to “TAKE TWO: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010)”


  1. Movie Reviews by Author « Chris Petersen's Film Blog - November 10, 2010

    […] Paranormal Activity 2                 B                                B+ […]

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