Monday, October 25, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2

Film: Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
Dir: Tod Williams
Rating: **1/2 out of 5 stars

In 2007’s Paranormal Activity, Katie Featherstone and her boyfriend Micah were terrorized by an aggressive entity in their home. Katie spoke of her and her sister being tormented by a dark figure as children, too. In Paranormal Activity 2, Katie’s sister, now an adult with a newborn baby, is also being harassed by something evil. It begins with loud bangs and slamming doors but soon progresses into something much more sinister as the evil being takes a special interest in the baby boy. As the family struggles to understand what is happening to them, security cameras document the so-called “true” events as they happen.

Much like the first movie, the pacing is incredibly slow for at least the first half of the film. There is a long build-up where hardly anything creepy happens. Fortunately, there are many characters this time around to keep things more interesting. Watching Katie and Micah alone in the first film got pretty tedious. In the sequel, there is a family of four plus a housekeeper and a dog. As a result, the film moves at a better pace than its predecessor. Furthermore, it looks better – perhaps because most of the shots are from static security cameras (and not Micah’s hand-held camcorder); or perhaps it is the new addition of cinematographer Michael Simmonds, who has worked on other indie favorites like Big Fan and Goodbye Solo.

Paranormal Activity 2 is loyal to its predecessor in mood and style. You would never know the director is different because the movie feels like it picks up right where the first left off. The sequel does add more back-story and explanations, though, which works in its favor. The original film introduced the evil and what it was capable of, while the sequel delves further and explains where it came from and why it terrorized Katie and now her sister. It is nice that the sequel builds upon the first film rather than simply rehashing it.

So is it scary? Sometimes. The first film had scarier moments – albeit few and far between – but the sequel does have two or three genuinely spooky incidents. Unfortunately, some of the better parts in 2 are given away in the trailer. One aspect that does help the film is the inclusion of a baby in peril and a mother powerless to help him. The evil entity often targets the child, making those scenes that much more tense. Also, the film takes on a REC-type quality toward the end that makes for some decent tension. Of course, you would be better off watching REC or its sequel for an entire movie of such tension.

The big problem with both Paranormal Activity films is that the boring stuff outweighs the interesting parts. Both films spend a lot of time showing dull, irrelevant footage. Granted, it is not without reason – the goal is to make the entire film appear as though it was real footage. Real people obviously do dull, irrelevant things much of the time. For a filmgoer, however, it can be tedious. The sequel is a little better than the original because it offers more characters and more exposition. The sequel’s theatrical ending is also better than all three endings from the first film.

This reviewer is not a big fan of either Paranormal Activity film because they rely too much on a gimmick rather than genuine terror. Fans of the original, however, will definitely enjoy this sequel. It is consistent and faithful to its predecessor, and what it adds actually improves upon the first film. Director Tod Williams does a good job imitating the look that Oren Peli established for the first film. The scares may not be as frequent or intense as those of the first film, but there are enough to keep PA fans happy.


Oren Peli & Michael R. Perry Paranormal Activity 2 said...

it's sound like a great Continuation film. i saw the first one that was great, one of the best horror movie i have ever seen. can't wait to see the second. thanks!