Starring: Katie Featherson, Micah Sloat, Brian Boland, Sprague Grayden, Molly Ephraim, and Tim Clemens.
Directed by: Tod Williams.
Released: October 22nd, 2010.
The original Paranormal Activity was a breath of fresh air from the special effects porn and giveaway soundtracks that plague most horror films that we know today. There were many people who missed this point. In my original review of Paranormal Activity, I compared it to the Poltergeist films. While it had some tense and entertaining moments, the Poltergeist franchise had way too many over the top special effects that showed us way too much. Paranormal Activity did the opposite because Oren Peli understood that less is more. The same applies to the Ridley Scott’s original Alien film. Take a look at every horror film that’s out today, including the unnecessary remakes, are they scary in the slightest bit? They all have tension music to cue an upcoming boo moment, they all have false awakenings or scares, they’re ridden with special effects and gore, they’re over the top, they have bad acting, choppy editing, and a poor script.
Paranormal Activity 2 plays on the very same elements that made the first one work. The film acts as both a prequel and a sequel to the original. Most of what is presented to us in Paranormal Activity 2 takes place before the events in the first while the last few minutes of the film takes place afterwards. The story revolves around the sister of Katie Featherson (the possessed girl in the original), Kristi Rey (Sprague Grayden), whom lives with her husband Daniel Rey (Brian Boland), their teenage daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim), and then there’s their infant Hunter. Let’s not forget the family dog, of course. The Rey family lives only a few blocks away from Micah and Katie, whom pay them a couple of visits. One day, the Rey family comes home and finds the entire house trashed as if someone had broken in. Their housekeeper Martine begins to ramble to them about possible spirits in the house and attempts to cleanse the home. This leads to Daniel firing the housekeeper (after he catches her burning incense) and setting up a security surveillance system around the place.
So the story of Paranormal Activity 2 told through two mediums: The security cameras and Ali’s camcorder. I forgot to mention, Ali likes to use her camcorder a lot. There’s a few times where it’s questionable as to why she’s still filming, but you become so immersed into what’s happening that you most likely won’t notice this on first viewing. For instance, at one point Kristi becomes possessed by the demon, and Ali (who is scared to death of her at this point) continues to document everything. Mind you, Ali is perhaps the most likable character throughout the whole film as she conducts her own investigation into what’s going on. Moving forward, the strange happenings in Paranormal Activity 2 start out small much like the first film (i.e. the pool cleaner getting pulled out of the pool, a door slowly opening) and they slowly begin to escalate to more violent situations, some of which we have seen in the first film along with some completely new ones. We’re also given a possible explanation as to why the demon is haunting the Reys family and the Sloats in the original.
What’s interesting about Paranormal Activity 2 is that the whole angle we get from the surveillance system around the house. We see entire rooms through these cameras and there is a lot of stuff to look at, therefore even if you know or think something is going to happen, you won’t know what it will be or what side of the room it will come from. Take the camera in Hunter’s room for instance – What will happen this time? Will the rocking chair move? Will the door open? Will one of the toys move? This gets harder to deal with in the larger rooms like the living room or the swimming area because now there’s much more to look out for. It leaves us with a huge sense of vulnerability. The first movie had the camera fixated at one angle in their bedroom whenever they slept, here it’s more rooms and more angles. Kristi’s possession is far more frightening than Katie’s but we aren’t shown too much of it. The popular dragging scene from the original is back but it’s done in a way that you wouldn’t have thought. Then there’s the final twenty minutes where things just get crazier and crazier.
What I didn’t like about the film was the fact that some parts from the trailers or the viral videos weren’t in the actual film (i.e. when Hunter goes out into the street by himself) and that their only purpose was to tie into the movie. Also, as I said before, Ali is really the only likable character, the others you don’t care so much for, except for the poor helpless baby of course. There were some things that the characters could have done but didn’t bother to do, like for instance, why didn’t the parents move Hunter’s crib into their bedroom? With that aside though, Paranormal Activity 2 is an interesting sequel nonetheless and if anything, it leaves you with another mysterious ending that will have you scratching your head, wondering how they’re going to do Paranormal Activity 3.