The story of ‘Paranormal Activity’ is one of an independent horror film’s shoot to fame and popularity, ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ on the other hand is very different. It’s like the first was a geek who had to work to get a girl, whilst the sequel is like the pretty boy who never had to try.
To explain the story of ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ is to say too much, once again it relies on the audience to believe that this is ‘found footage’ ala ‘Cannibal Apocalypse’, ‘Blair Witch Project’ and ‘[REC]’. On the arrival of new born baby Hunter, recently wed parents Dan and Kristi (whose acting credit is hidden whilst the film tries to keep the ‘found footage’ mentality) appear to be living a perfect life only until strange things begin to happen in and around the huge house. After returning home one night, the family find their picturesque house completely in ruin; they decide to set up security cameras around the house whilst mixing in footage from a hand held camera which individual characters hold at certain time. The end effect works really well as the audience sees the action from afar, but then are sucked into a sort of point of view angle as the characters scream and run.
What was so impressive about the first film is lost on the sequel. When the first (finally) came out audiences where left shaking and dreading the following night, however with this instalment it has all been watered down to the point when you are mainly surprised rather then shocked. For some audience members ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ will scare the life out of them but for any horror fanatics it’s not much.
The main problem with this movie is that it feels very ‘been there done that’. A lot of the spooky ‘activities’ pop up a second time from the first movie, however with a high budget gloss. Rather then playing on your nerves, it is just filled with cheap scares. Having said that the comedy makes a nice counter balance to the poor scares; horror and comedy are closely linked in cinema and it is a nice change from the quick scares which are too far apart.
The story takes too long to actually pick up and when it finally does it lingers for too short a time before its finale, resembling found footage Spanish zombie flick ‘[REC]’ and leaves the audience disappointed. It seems director Tod Williams didn’t know pacing very well, and the movie looses a lot of its subtleness which was what writer director Oren Peli got right with the first.
Although ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ lacks originality and subtleness, it ends up still being a fun trip to the movie which will haunt some audience members later that night.