Synopsis: In Paranormal Activity 2, a family sets up cameras around their home trying to catch a burglar but discover something much scarier.
Release Date: October 22, 2010 MPAA Rating: PG-13
When the original Paranormal Activity was released last year viewers exited sold-out shows justifiably scared s**tless. Word of mouth traveled quickly, people became curious, and probably most important of all, no one knew what kind of movie to expect. This time around the film starts off with a disclaimer apologizing to the families of the deceased and a handheld digital camera introduces the story’s family as they bring a newborn baby boy into their home in Carlsbad, California. Almost immediately we are more than aware that the filmmakers will attempt to evoke fear using the same faux-documentary anesthetic as the first film and thus much of the fun is instantly eliminated. Not only is a majority of the technique a replication of the first installment, but the same characters, Katie and Micah, have been miraculously returned to the screen as well. The newborn’s mother, Kristi, just happens to be Katie’s sister and quite cleverly the movie reveals its self to be more of a prequel than a sequel, with the majority of the story taking place sixty days before the original Paranormal Activity. Fans of the first film will appreciate this “sequel” as some of Katie and Kristi’s creepy family history is shared and we actually witness the events that eventually lead to Katie and Micah’s haunted abode. And yet, as much as we appreciate good backstory, filmgoers yearn for something new. We are all afraid of the dark the first time, but the effect dwindles down when we’ve already switched on the lights dozens of times before.
Viewers who found the original Paranormal Activity unnerving will more than likely feel the same about the sequel’s creepy atmosphere. Back are the loud thumps in the night, quiet eerie noises, and self-shutting doors. Even the night-to-night digital timecode display makes a return. But because we’ve seen this blue monochromatic movie before, what was once a terrifying experience is now simply a decent night out. In fact, our awareness transforms what was seen as technique last year into mere gimmickry the second time around. Director Tod Williams attempts to manipulate his audience into being afraid via duplication whereas Director Oren Peli in the previous film utilized anxiety-ridden pace and minimalist quiet to tap into real fears of a domestic lifestyle. Paranormal Activity 2 does expand on the unsettling discomfort of being home alone with dark rooms, mirrors, and closed closet doors. The film further explores the nervous nature of having a child, starting a family, of babies crying in the night for no apparent reason. Still, none of these seemingly deep-set fears resonate. The fact that some of the special effects actually provide unintentional comedic moments and the gimmicks are all borrowed from the first movie outweigh the film’s potential to truly traumatize the viewer. The movie will definitely make you jump once or twice, but most of the fun is in the anxiety of searching the static shots on screen for something to reveal itself. Surprisingly, the scariest part of the film is actually the end credits. I won’t say whether or not anything actually happens, but just try to sit there in the dark theater alone as the credits slowly crawl their way up the screen, as the faint sounds make its way under your skin, as you wait to see if something will jump out of the dark. Overall, would I watch this movie alone? Hell no. Will I be able to sleep tonight? Absolutely; warm milk and Ambien works wonders.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Tod Williams, Oren Peli
- Producer(s): Michael R. Perry
- Screenwriter(s): Katie Featherston (Katie), Gabriel Johnson (Raphael Omen/Demon Killer)
- Editor: Gregory Plotkin
- Cinematographer: Michael Simmonds
- Country Of Origin: USA