Theatrical Review: Paranormal Activity 2

Last year, the original Paranormal Activity was the little movie that could. Made for an extremely low budget and utilizing a mostly word-of-mouth marketing campaign, the first was a huge success. Deservedly so as well, as the first is one very fun movie, one of my favorites from last year.

Now the second film is here, almost a year to the date from the first and it has a lot to live up to. And it does, serving up a film that serves as both prequel and sequel all in one.

Now I knew little of what this was about before going to see it, and absolutely zero when it comes to it’s story. I’m going to reveal a little something ahead here with the brief synopsis, so if you want to go into this cold, I’d advise skipping the next paragraph.

As this starts, we’re introduced to Christina and her family. Christina is coming home from the hospital with her brand new baby son, Hunter. Soon, the family experiences a weird break-in into their house and as a result of that, they install a series of six surveillance cameras to keep a record of what’s happening. Well, as this unfolds, we find out that Christina is actually Katie’s sister from the first movie and soon both Katie and her boyfriend Micah both show up to visit the family, where it’s then revealed that this takes place 60 days before the death of Micah Sloat. Weird things continue to happen which leads Christina to believe that this has something to do with the weirdness that she and Katie used to experience when they were little girls.

OK, so that’s it, no more about the story, if you want to find out more than seek it out on the internet or better yet go see it yourself. I was not expecting this close a tie-in to the first movie and I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised by it.

Like the previous film, this is made of “found footage,” which of course has become it’s own sub-genre in this type of thriller. Where this ups the ante from the first is in it’s use of six stationary cameras this time around and only using one handheld. I also tend to think it’s there to strike back against the critics that will complain about the camera jumping around too much. Though I also tend to think that this won’t satisfy them either. Really, if you’re not a fan of this type of sub-genre thriller, I implore you… stay home, don’t go see it and spare yourself the “pain.”

Another criticism that I’ve been seeing about the film is that it just takes too long for anything to start to happen. Well, that’s not true, there’s always things happening here though they’re not the big scares. This is called the build-up and it’s necessary to both build the false sense of security and to get you involved with the characters. It does this extremely well.

I love the usage of the six surveillance cameras. Though the action depicted on them might just be happening on one part of the screen, the use makes you examine the whole screen and makes the startling moments all the better. Director Tod Williams uses these cameras extremely well and the pure storytelling is right on target. As are all of the performances (again, I don’t want to say too much here over the risk of revealing too much).

Paranormal Activity 2 leaves things wide open for another sequel and if it follows the same path as this movie and is a continuation, then I say bring it on. The excellent Saw series is coming to an end as of next week (review to come) and so another Halloween-timed horror series would certainly be welcomed by those of us who are fans of these movies. In the meantime, if you’re a fan of the first Paranormal Activity then by all means, go see the second. It’s a terrific night at the movies.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

24. October 2010 by Darren Goodhart
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