First off, let me state for the record that I’m a fan of Oren Peli‘s PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (our review) even if I did feel it barely survived the crushing weight of the hype that was heaped upon it. A lot of this had to do with the fact that I had watched the version that made the rounds at film festivals years a couple years before it made it to the theaters. I thought the minimalistic approach was extremely effective and achieved at giving me goosebumps on a couple occasions. The rest is history after a successful marketing campaign that got the film into theaters and asses in the seats, leading to a film with a budget of $11,000 making $194 million worldwide and becoming an entry into the annals of pop culture history. One of my issues with the film was the re-vamped ending that led to the possibilities of a sequel, something that wasn’t possible with the original version. So when it was officially announced that there was going to be a follow-up, I honestly had no hopes for it, envisioning a slightly better PARANORMAL ENTITY. Not in regards to revenue, as I was positive it would make some cash, but rather how it would compare to the original in delivering the scares. I had no plans on seeing this opening weekend but a nearby theater was playing it last night and since I had already masturbated myself to the point of dehydration, I figured I’d go check it out. Surprisingly, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 is a worthy sequel that I ended up enjoying just as much as I did the original. Watch the trailer and then read my obviously thesaurus free rambling.
Ok, that particular trailer doesn’t give away too much, but the television spots do give you a bit more information as to the plot of the film and how it ties in with the original. It also shows too much and contains footage that isn’t even in the movie so I decided not to use it. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 takes place approximately six months before the events of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY focusing on the family of Kristi, the sister of Katie from the original, immediately after the birth of her son, Hunter. After their house is ransacked Kristi’s husband has a security system installed that includes a series of surveillance cameras to monitor their digs. Between these static cameras and the handheld one used inside the home, the audience witnesses paranormal activity in the home as the family sleeps, increasing in both frequency and intensity by an entity that has quite an interest in the now 1-year-old Hunter.
I was pleasantly surprised at Michael R. Perry‘s screenplay that did a great job merging the two movies together while also providing more details on the source of the “demon” that plagues Kristi and later, Katie. I wasn’t exactly clear on the plot of this film but didn’t really think they’d pull it off as well as they did. Another surprise was director Tod Williams sticking with the minimalistic effects employed by the original even though he had a much larger budget to work with. Some of the end-game stuff is more advanced than what you see in the original film, but for most of the running time Williams uses simple effects like a moving mobile or a door opening by hand unseen to get the viewer on edge and in preparation for the clusterfuck you know is coming — especially since unlike the original, the viewer already knows what the family is up against.
While the film follows pretty much the same template as the original (occasionally even using the low-rumbling noise to queue the audience something freaky is about to happen) Williams keeps things fresh for viewers aware of what is going to happen by never letting them know when they’re going to happen. He uses the tactic of ripping the band-aid off on the count of two instead of the mutually agreed upon count of three, with some of the scares coming at times you weren’t expecting. I also thought the addition of the family dog and the infant added a couple new layers to the film. Watching the dog prick its ears or bark at thin air was another way of alerting the viewer that whatever is causing the disturbances in the home has just entered the room while the baby added a sense of urgency to the film, especially since we know before the characters do that he seems to be the focus of whatever is in the house. These new elements added some punch to a film that could have easily cloned the formula of the last film, providing new, goosebump rendering avenues for the creators to explore.
Like the sisters both films feature, both PA and PA2 are similar on the surface. But there is just enough variation in personality, tone and execution to make them distinguishable from one another. I enjoyed both films equally and pretty confident that if you are a fan of PA, then you’ll undoubtedly like what PA2 has to offer. However, if you are one of those who hated the original — feeling as if it was nothing more than over-hyped, ineffective dreck — then you’re probably not gonna feel any differently about this film. As for me, I’m giving PA2 the same rating as I did the original while stressing you see this in the theater to get the full effect.
Rating:Tags: Horror, movie, Paranormal Activity, review