Billed as “the most anticipated horror event of the year” by Dread Central, the follow up to 2007’s bare-bones horror hit comes to theaters...
Paranormal Activity 2
Billed as “the most anticipated horror event of the year” by Dread Central, the follow up to 2007’s bare-bones horror hit comes to theaters packing the same punch as the original.
Paranormal Activity 2 is a slow burn and, like the original, much time is spent getting to know the family at the center of the paranormal events. These include teenage daughter Ali, parents Daniel and Kristi with toddler Hunter and the family dog. Kristi is the sister of Paranormal Activity’s Katie and the events in Paranormal Activity 2 run parallel to those in the first film. Before we get to any actual paranormal-ness there are several red herrings, a potty freak out involving the daughter and a pool cleaner that rises from the depths, that lull us into safety before the real scares begin.
After a series of break-ins, patriarch Daniel beefs up his home security, installing security cameras all over the house equipped with motion sensors. These cameras provide the lens through which we will see most of the film, with brief asides provided from handheld home video shot by Kristi and Ali. This panoptic perspective gives us, the audience, a front row seat as events unfold.
The initial break-ins are only shown in aftermath. I hate to put my 9/11 hat on again, but a homeland invasion by a threatening Other resonates with the family’s reaction to the trashed house. The unseen assailants make off with nothing except a necklace given to Kristi by her sister, but the teen daughter Ali feels violated at the very idea that a “person was in here going through my stuff” Later when Daniel tries to convince the stressed Kristi to go on a date night, he tells her that if she lets the paranormal goings-on affect their lives, “the terrorists win”
But far from providing comfort or answers for the family, the video only documents the horror. Moving objects, freaky shadows and raspy whispers are just some of the not-so-normal things that take place in this house.
To compare price tags, the original Paranormal Activity was made for around $11,000 while the sequel was budgeted at $2,750,000. I’m willing to believe that some of that went to hiring better actors and it definitely shows in places, but what about the rest? Special effects probably ate up much of this bill, but it’s hard to notice which may be a nod to the film’s practical effects.
Despite all these successes, the ending of Paranormal Activity 2 does seem a bit tacked on, meant more to capitalize on the past story of its predecessor and end the movie than to go for something more innovative. In the end, Paranormal Activity 2 works because it sticks closely to what made the original work. Long periods of unnerving silence are broken by gotcha moments of paranormal spookiness. Overall, it’s a good film for jump out scares, but I dread what may be the set-up for a sequel at the film’s end. It seems a demanding horror market will not allow sleeping demons to lie.
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