Seems like just yesterday that the hype for the original Paranormal Activity was at a fevered pitch. Produced on a microscopic budget and winning over Steven Spielberg, the film was released to an extremely small number of theaters. The viral marketing pushed people to ‘petition’ Paramount to get the “extremely scary” film in their town. Kelly and I went to screen it right as they began to open wide and our theater was packed clean to the aisles. The film eventually grossed over $100m and ended up displacing Saw as the go-to American horror franchise. So after all that hoopla, how does its sequel hold up?
Serving to encapsulate the narrative of the original film, Paranormal Activity 2 answers a lot of questions that the first movie posed (regarding the events of Katie and her boyfriend Micah) to satisfying effect. The movie plays from the perspective of Katie’s sister, Kristi Rey and her family, regularly entwining the players of the original film before they begin to have their own Poltergeist-ish adventures. Following what looks like a robbery at their home (although nothing is taken), the Reys install several security cameras (of insanely high detail) throughout their house to track the demon that haunts them.
While the film is technically proficient and better produced in every way than its forebear, it lacks its originality. It spends far too long aping the first film’s idiosyncracies, which leads to extremely drawn-out exposition, cheesy internet research regarding faustian deals, and lots of doors opening and closing randomly. There are some great scares in here, but many of the prize winners here are mere replications. The freakiest effects of the first film – the time lapses – are sadly minimized here while the climax disappoints. Paranormal Activity 2 is a great rental, but it’s perhaps because of the casual appeal and incredibly quick production (less than a year) that nothing new is brought to the docket.