PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 Movie Review
When it comes to horror movies, I'm a huge fan of the majority of the sub-genres, and especially ghost horror. Poltergeist, The Exorcist, these are classics that pioneered the standard ghost film. The thing I like best about them is their atmosphere - and that's about the only thing going for Paranormal Activity 2.
The story takes place shortly before the occurences of the original film - Paranormal Activity. The sister of Katie (the main character in the first film), Kristi, moves into a new Los Angeles suburban home with her husband, Daniel, teenage step daughter, Ali, and newborn son, Hunter. After a "break-in", Daniel decides to have a system of security cameras set up around the house. The family begin seeing objects move on their own and other odd occurrences. Katie and Kristi have a conversation on a home camera about how they were tormented by some sort of paranormal spirit when they were children. Ali, suspicious, looks up information on the internet and concludes that a pact by the family's great grandparents were made, giving the firstborn son of the family to a demon spirit. She realizes this because Hunter is the first male born into the family in generations.
As time passes, the events become less and less subtle, and the demon terrorizes Kristi especially. One night, the family dog is dragged away from the camera's view and is injured. Daniel and Ali rush out of the house when they wake to find their dog badly hurt. Kristi and Hunter are left alone in the house, and the demon finally attacks Kristi, dragging her into the basement. After this, Kristi's behavior is strange and scares Ali and Daniel. Eventually they perform an exorcism and pass off the demon to Kristi's sister, Katie - thus beginning the first film's plot. It then cuts to weeks later, and Katie, now possessed by the demon as well, suddenly appears and murders Daniel and Kristi. The end credits say that the bodies of Hunter and Ali are never found.
My biggest problem with this movie was not that there was slow build up, but that I felt cheated at the payoff that the slow moments in the film built up to. Okay, the violent and scary moments in the film were pretty well executed and spooky, but not nearly as effectively as the first film. The scariest moments in this film were more violent than the first one, but felt a bit more campy. But despite all of that, the thing that really, really bothered me about this movie was the style. The thing that makes those mockumentary style horror movies so scary (like the Blair Witch Project, or Rec) is that fact that you're forced to be pulled in with the characters. You're always watching from the perspective of one of the characters in the film, not from an objective point of view. So when a big scary demon pops out and attacks the character with the camera, you feel like you're being attacked as well. That's exactly what PA2 did wrong. The security cameras were all placed in the upper corners of the rooms in the house - pulling you as far away from the characters as possible. There are the occasional scenes on a home video camera, but not many. I just felt that when something went down, I'm watching it from an angle I'd never witness it from in real life (unless I'm Spiderman......which would be wicked).
Despite all its attempts to be scary, and the occasional time it actually was, there was just too many elements missing from this sequel directed by Tod Williams. It's worth a viewing if you've seen the original, because it expands on the story, but if that weren't the case I'd pass on this one.