|Scared yet? Just wait. An iguana pops out in the end.|
With yet another sequel (Paranormal Activity 3) being released next week, I thought I would try something new. The week before a sequel is to be released I'll post a review of the previous installment in the series. Maybe this will help jog your memory or just bring you up to speed with a series you've missed a chapter of. This week the film is Paranormal Activity 2. This is a review I wrote right after seeing the film in the cinema. It's actually one of a group of reviews that inspired me to start up this site. Without further ado, Paranormal Activity 2:
I like scary movies. Sure, they aren't always the most well-crafted films but they are often more than entertaining enough to get the job done. I thought the first Paranormal Activity was a classy and clever little film that earned it's big scares. It wasn't threatening to nab any major artistic awards, but it certainly hit more often than it missed. I went into Paranormal Activity 2 hoping to find more. More of what worked and less of what didn't. I can't say that I was completely disappointed, but I definitely was not impressed.
Paranormal Activity 2: Electric Boogaloo is about a family who kinda sorta maybe thinks there is a ghost in the house after a pot falls from a rack. It's shot with a mix of handheld HD camcorders and wall mounted security cameras. After sitting through 20 minutes without any activity even slightly paranormal taking shape I thought to myself, “Self, the only way this movie can redeem itself is to end in an all out bloodbath.” To say that this movie starts off a little slow would be like saying War and Peace is a little long. This is mainly because the bulk of the first half of the film is composed of drawn-out security cam shots edited together. I think these are meant to build tension...but they only build tension simply because it's a horror movie and bad stuff eventually has to happen in horror movies. This tension isn't earned by any tangible means. The movie feels much more like a parody of the first than a serious sequel. You see multiple nights worth of the same repeating shots where nothing at all abnormal happens.
As the story develops it forces a link to the first film that felt extremely unnecessary and, in doing so, blows open plot holes bigger than the national debt. Since Paranormal Activity 2 is a horror movie however, this doesn't ruin it for me. I understand suspension of disbelief. All I ask is that a movie keep playing by the rules and logic that it creates. We're wandering close to spoiler territory here so skip to the next paragraph if you want to avoid it. The demon in the film is after the family's bouncing baby boy to settle a debt to said demon that was incurred generations earlier. I'll swallow that, but what I won't swallow is the demon having a perfect opportunity to reap this boy's soul and not capitalizing on it. The demon actually lifts the boy from his crib and summons him down the stairs to the cellar door, where the demon “lives”. Having just proved it is strong enough to open doors this should have been a done deal. However, the next shot reveals the boy crawling back up to his room and his parents find him in bed. Not only did the demon not take the brat, but he helped him back into his crib! Nonsense.
What PA:2 promised was a creepy atmosphere and jumpy scares. Once PA:2 does start to take off it delivers a fair amount of these scares and tense moments, but not quite enough to warrant the sluggish build up or clunky plot. If you didn't like Paranormal Activity this just isn't the movie for you but, if you did, be warned. I didn't hate this movie but it didn't do what sequels are supposed to do. It didn't give me more. It gave me the feeling of squeezing out the last bit of toothpaste from the tube. In the end you get just enough out of it to be satisfied, but you know there isn't anything left. Only two installments in and the Paranormal Activity franchise is dead in the water. Grade: C