Quickcard Review Paranormal Activity 2
Directed by: Tod Williams Cast: Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: R Release Date: October 22, 2010
PLOT: Someone breaks in to a family's house. This leads the family to install security cameras around the house and the footage that is captured leads them to think there is a demon in the house.
WHO'S IT FOR? The type of scares are very similar to the first Paranormal Activity, so if that worked for you, this one should as well. There are some story elements in the first that carry over so I recommend seeing the original first.
Second verse, same as the first ... almost. Does everyone remember Katie? Well, she has a sister. Things start off in Paranormal Activity 2 in a nice, natural way. Katie's sister Kristi (Grayden), her husband Dan (Boland), his teenage daughter, Ali (Ephraim) plus their new born son and a German shepherd are all a happy family. Those last two additions (the baby and the dog) add a very serious "You BETTER not hurt them!" element that the first didn't have.
Everyone gets along and the jokes comes frequently, with comments about having a quickie before the kid gets home, to the love of a 50" TV. This is all told through hand held cameras. It's done with first perspective with the allusion this is all "found" footage. Sometimes this is affective and other times you wonder why in the world this family is so obsessed with recording every moment of their lives. But we're not here to talk about the jokes or the cameras ... we're here to talk about the scares.
When I was finished with Paranormal Activity I would simply say "Night #18" or "Night #20" and I would get chills. Things are a little different this time around. This time, it's the anticipation of the scare that is most affective instead of just the scare itself. Most of the night footage is with the security cameras set up around the house. Each night starts with a shot of the front porch, then the pool, next the kitchen, then the living room and the hall ... after that it's off to the baby's room (insert creepy laugh here). The benefit of these cameras is you truly don't know where the scare is coming from. I found I was studying every inch of the screen, wondering what would happen next.
I think one reason the big scares don't work as well is because we now know the style. It's like a band's second album. You'll be happen the band is back, but that first set of songs was so significant, perhaps even life-changing. With that said, there are story elements here that are impressive for a horror sequel. Most horror sequels are just more slashing and killing a new breed of teens. This takes a prequel/sequel approach. At first, it seems the only thing interesting is Kristi is Katie's sister. We actually get to see Katie and Micah before the events of Paranormal Activity take place. There's some good surprises (not just scares) along the way.
It can't be like the first time. I believe Paranormal Acitivity entered new territory, and wasn't simply a Blair Witch knock-off. If you liked the first, you'll be a fan of this sequel. Not for the acting, not for the poor decisions some of the characters make, but most importantly because this movie can make you feel nervous and after you're done, when you're home, you'll wonder if you did leave that light on ... or if something else did.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10