Paranormal Activity 2
Are you afraid of the dark?
Paramount’s anticipated sequel Paranormal Activity 2 made viewers cry “yes” to that eerie question after breaking several records with its midnight release October 22, raking in $41.5 million, the largest sum for any horror movie with a three day opening and for any R-rated release. However, while the movie had some genuinely frightening moments and was equipped with an interesting storyline, the 91-minute thriller’s slow pace and inadequate climactic follow through left this reviewer feeling unsatisfied.
The dubbed title “sequel” may be a little misleading for the movie. In actuality, the story serves as a preface to the previous Paranormal Activity and the storyline acts as an exposition to the haunting of Micah and Katie, the main characters in Paranormal Activity. This backwards approach taken by Director Tod Williams provides a unique and unexpected twist for viewers.
The movie follows a suburban family that has recently suffered a “break in,” and is looking to install security cameras into the house. These cameras, along with hand-shot video footage by the young daughter in the film, serve as the main viewpoints for the movie. The low budget and simple cinematography allows the haunting of the family to feel more genuine and personal, a rare attribute among most current horror movies, and the paranormal series’ claim to fame.
With the cameras the family hoped to capture home invaders; however they soon realize their reality may be more sinister than they initially believed. The haunting begins very early, starting small with cheesy “unexplainable” experiences like the family’s swimming pool cleaning device traveling out of the pool. Real scary, right? Not really, if anything, the deadly pool cleaner made me laugh and took away from the movie’s overall “scare factor.”
However despite the slow start and several minutes of simply watching the family’s routines, the movie does pick up the pace near the conclusion of the story as the haunting becomes more extreme. The family dog takes on an evil spirit, and loses. Christi the soccer mom is dragged down the stairs by a demon, not just once, but twice. Doors open and close on their own, glasses and dishes fly out of cabinets randomly, noises in the middle of the night are frequent. These events may seem miniscule in comparison to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Saw’s brutality and massive stunts, but by playing up these everyday fears and “noises in the dark,” the movie becomes scarier. Director Williams achieves the nearly unreachable task in genuinely making a viewer feel as if they are being haunted too, as if what’s happening to the characters in the film could happen to them.
After the slow start, the climax almost feels rushed. The explanation behind the haunting of the family and Katie and Micah was said in passing in a minor scene, making it seem insignificant to a viewer who was just looking away from the screen for a second to grab another Twizzler. With such a potentially interesting storyline, it was disappointing to see the truly terrifying events comprising it crammed into the last 15 or 20 minutes of the film. Then, the movie ends almost abruptly.
The demon in the home is after Christi’s young son Hunter, who was the first-born male on her side of the family. The baby hunt begins after Christi’s great grandmother literally “made a deal with the devil” to get rich. In efforts to save Christi after she is possessed by the demon that dragged her down the stairs a few times, her husband and former nanny Martin, hex out the demon and send it to her sister, Katie.
The sequel reaches its conclusion where the original Paranormal Activity begins. The connection between the two movie’s storylines was the truly impressive factor behind Paramount’s latest horror, however to truly enjoy the sequel one must have seen the original.
In several ways the sequel is more impressive than Paranormal Activity. The explanations provided in Paranormal Activity 2 that were not present in the original, as well as the more believable acting and dialogue contribute to its effectiveness.
Despite its pitfalls, the movie does provide a truly creepy atmosphere and embodies the dreaded “I heard a mysterious noise while I was alone in the house” feeling and it is that personal factor that Director Williams relates to viewers that makes the movie truly spooky and successful. The lack of a soundtrack and final song to roll with the credits adds to the overall eeriness of the film, as the most startling moments are found in the silence. It is the manipulation of viewer’s everyday fear of the dark and the silence that makes the low-budget paranormal series so powerful and successful. If more time was taken with plot development and pacing, this movie could have achieved much more. While the box office hit may have you checking over your shoulder and staying awake for a few nights, its hype was unwarranted.