Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

[From AnythinghorrorScott}:  As you’ve probably all heard me bitch about already, my work schedule has been hell these last five weeks.  Such hell that I haven’t had much free time to see some new flicks (the last one I saw in the theater was LET ME IN).  Well luckily I have lots of horror buddies who have volunteered to pick up my slack.

One such buddy is Bill Walsh.  I met Bill through a mutual buddy (Steve Spatucci) about a year ago and the three of us have been talking about the world of horror ever since.  I think we have the longest Facebook thread ever!!  We’ve even tossed around the idea of a horror pod cast.  But Bill saw PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 this past Tuesday night and was nice enough to write a review of it for http://www.anythinghorror.com.  So thank you very much Bill and I promise that after next week (the last week of my double shifts) I’ll be back to “normal” (whatever the f**k THAT means).

So heres Bill’s review of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2.  Let him know what you think!!

I’m not sure if it’s a sign of the movie industry as a whole or just my local theaters lack of attention to detail, but when I went to see PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 yesterday, my ticket actually read “Sequel to Paranormal Activity”.  It would have been easy for the filmmakers to have approached the making of this film with the same short-sightedness – after all, Hollywood has proven repeatedly that brainless sequels can equal easy money.  Genre fans are harder to please than the average movie-going public, however, and another sub-sub-sub-par sequel in the vein of BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 would just be no good… No good at all.  So while it may not be fair to kick off this review by comparing this film to that one, the comparisons between PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT are just too obvious to ignore.  Thankfully there’s simply no comparison between the sequels.

I wonder what those dogs are staring at??

While there is nothing ground-breaking about the structure of the film, it does connect to the first film in a fairly unique way that I’m going to try to avoid spoiling here.  [I assure you there are NO spoilers in this review – AnythinghorrorScott].  The film begins on the day that baby Hunter is coming home from the hospital.  Hunter’s mother, Kristi, is Katie’s sister (from the first film).   The first 10 minutes or so follow the same formula as the original, with all of the exposition being given through home video footage.  In a clever twist, the family has security cameras installed throughout their home in response to an apparent break-in, and the remainder of the film is seen through a combination of security footage and home video.  As expected, strange things go bump in the night, in increasingly noisy and noticeable fashion, until the family can no longer deny that there is a sinister presence in their home that needs to be cast out.

Taking a page from the minimalist horror handbook, Director Tod Williams simply let’s you watch the family go about their days and nights, with the occasional door creaking or pot falling to the ground.  The security cameras capture it all – and it isn’t long before the family is reviewing the camera footage themselves in an attempt to explain the strange occurrences in their home.  Williams does a good job of just staying out of the way and letting the images tell the story.

Aahhh; so THAT’S what the dogs are staring at!!

The acting here is solid across the board, with Molly Ephraim standing out as the curious step-daughter who uncovers the truth about the haunting.  Sprague Grayden (SONS OF ANARCHY) plays the terrorized mommy well, and Brian Boland plays the obligatory skeptic father with a welcome bit of humor.

As with the first film, some of the exposition feels forced at times, and the use of the hand-held video often seems out of place.  Kristi’s step-daughter is a precocious teen who, after a disconcerting babysitting encounter, inexplicably films herself searching the internet for an explanation.  Of course, she conveniently finds the perfect wikipedia-like paragraph for what could be happening in the house, and she has her boyfriend read it out loud to her – on camera.  It’s fairly lazy writing, but it easily furthers the story and allows us to get back to those highly anticipated night time terrors.

And therein lies perhaps my only other criticism of the film… it’s just not that scary.  Whereas the first film was full of genuinely frightening moments throughout, the prevailing emotion here is simply well-paced tension.  You don’t have the sense that the family is being thoroughly terrorized until the final quarter of the film, at which point you’re just desperate for something – – ANYthing – – truly frightening to happen.

Director Tod Williams

With the pre-Halloween release date, and an undeniably effective media blitz and web marketing campaign, my expectations were high.  While PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 may not have lived up to those expectations for me, it is still a solid, if not spectacular, follow-up to one of the most polarizing horror hits of the last twenty years.  The tension is maintained well throughout, and the story ties in nicely with the first film.  And of course, the door is left open for part three.

Bill’s Summary:

Director:  Tod Williams

Plot: 3 out of 5

Gore: 1 out of 5 (blood on a shirt count?)

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5

Reviewed by Bill Walsh

Stay Bloody!!!

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11 Responses to Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

  1. l3pr3chaun says:

    Nice thoughtful review. This is one of those franchise that I just do not get. It kinda hits me like Blair Witch did which was in a very annoying way.

    • The 1st PARANORMAL ACTIVITY didn’t annoy me nearly as much as BLAIR WITCH. I enjoyed it. I bought into the “realism” of the found footage and I really connected with the characters. Of course they were actors, but they sold me on being a real couple. I’m looking forward to seeing PARANORMAL 2; to me its the “little franchise that could”!!

      • Bill says:

        I thought Blair Witch, when it was released, was absolutely terrifying. It was the first movie in a long time to use the hand-held approach effectively, and the night time sequences still give me the heebie jeebies (come on, try to imagine sitting in a tent in the dead of night, and hearing giggling children scratching the outside of your tent!).

        That being said, the marketing campaign got real annoying once it became common knowledge that it was not a true story. And if you believe a sequel can taint the quality of the original then Book of Shadows proves that theory as well as anything (I’m looking at you, George Lucas).

        Agreed on PA, though – the little franchise that could, I like that.

      • I think that’s what killed BLAIR WITCH for me …. the marketing campaign. I really hate how they kept promoting it as a “true story” after it came out. All the little teeners swearing to god that the events on the screen actually happened. Then how do you explain the appearance of the 3 actors on the MTv awards that year assholes!! LOL

        I gotta tell ya; I kind of enjoyed BLAIR WITCH 2 … I know I know; but I thought it was better than the 1st one.

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  3. Steve says:

    Wow guys – cool that you teamed up on this! Great review, Bill – not that I’ve seen the movie, but you’ve seemed to sum it up well. Nice job!

    • We didn’t so much team up on this review Steve … it was more like Bill went out, saw the flick, and then wrote the review LOL I think he summarizes it really well without giving away any spoilers. I’m looking forward to seeing it soon!!