Paranormal Activity 2 – Review


Not nearly as memorable or scary as the first, but that won’t stop people from seeing it.

A sleeper hit in the horror genre is the equivalent to giving a movie studio the right to print money. As is always the case, the sequels cost almost nothing to produce, and because the first feature left such an impression, viewers would be compelled to see more. For the past seven years this has been the case with the Saw franchise, and with that series coming to a close, it looks as though the low-budget-huge-opening reigns have been passed on to Paranormal Activity.

Last September, the world was introduced to an incredibly simplistic film that found a way to get under your skin and made you jump out of pure, unexpected build-up. The acclaim was everywhere for the film, promising sleepless nights, and a mindset that would have you second guessing every creak in your house. That film was Paranormal Activity, which I praised for its slow build, and solid delivery of scares. One year later, a sequel to the film has been released, though I guess in some regards, it would be better to label it a prequel.

The film actually attempts to add layers to the first film, by following Kristi (sister of the original film`s star Katie), her husband Dan, his teenage daughter Ali, and their newborn son, Hunter. We’re told the film takes place roughly two months before the events of the original when Katie and Micah, obviously unaffected by any paranormal events at this point in time, stop by to visit. Everything appears normal. Hunter was just born, and the family is constantly documenting the infant on their video camera. Director Tod Browning slowly builds as the movie progresses. Things quickly take a turn for the worse, when the family arrives home one day to find their entire house in shambles. Thinking it was a break-in, Dan quickly takes it upon himself to have security cameras installed all over the house, so that they’ll be able to see if anything happens in the future.

With the original film taking place mostly in the bedroom, it’s obvious that they wanted to take things to the next level this time around, thinking bigger is better. Does this work? Yes and no. The idea is a good one, yet the execution is a bit off, as one single break-in causing someone to put cameras in almost every room in their house seems a bit extreme; however, seeing as there aren’t many reasons for doing this, we’ll cut a bit of slack. Another thing that could be considered a problem is that instead of two central characters, we’re introduced to a small family, with a housekeeper, a dog, and on a few occasions, Ali’s boyfriend. It’s just a lot of people to have to juggle around, and while you can’t continuously just have two people involved, some of the tension was lost with just how many people were added.

During the times when Katie visits, her and Kristi talk about their dreaded childhood that was touched upon in the first film, though in the original, the impact of that childhood was more impactful to the overall story. This time around, it’s Ali who does the investigating into the happenings in the house. Searching the Internet she learns about demonic presences, and why exactly they may be around. Even with the intent to add depth to the original story, I believe it would have been smarter to release a film that focused on a completely unrelated group of people, as it’s definitely not as strong a reasoning as the previous film, and really makes it almost unbelievable that this family would have so many problems with demons for different reasons.

There are some positives to the film, as there are a few scenes that will make you jump, and the addition of a dog to the cast was a great move. The scenes where the dog is tensed up, ready to pounce, growling at thin air are quite creepy, and are some of the very few memorable moments from the film. The problem is that while scary things do occur, it almost feels as though not enough happens for all the time we spend with these characters.

Still, Paranormal Activity 2 will be seen by anyone who saw the original, and there will no doubt be a third film; however, this time around I believe they’ll break free of any type of connection to the first two, and start fresh. That’s a good thing, as the second installment in the series really just seems like a cash grab, not investing as much thought in the story, or scares, as the original did. Is the film scary? Sure. As stated above, it has a few tense moments, but unlike the first, which still gives me chills thinking about it, Paranormal Activity 2 delivers nothing you’ll really be thinking about an hour after you leave the theater, let alone something that will make you lose any sleep.

Director: Tod Williams
Notable Cast: Katie Featherston
Writer(s): Michael R. Perry

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