The story of Paranormal Activity‘s meteoric rise to fame as the truly independent film that could is already legendary. It’s one of the most profitable films in history. So, like other film festival horror movies that end up making a load of cash (the Saw films, The Descent), a sequel is tragically inevitable. Unfortunately, everything that was fresh, and creepy about the original is either lacking, or a pale version of what it could have been.
Paranormal Activity 2 takes place during the same time as PA1. Micah and Katie play large parts. But the majority of the story revolves around Katie’s sister, who like Katie, shares a sense about these things, and a questionable history of exploration of the occult. There’s a Mexican nanny, a dog, and a baby. And they all sense and know things that adult white people don’t seem to get. Is this not a cliche that deserves to be chastised and put to rest? The upper-middle class family even fires the nanny after discovering her burning sage, or incense. This scene, of course, elicits a laugh from the audience, even though we all know she ends up being right. Silly minorities.
Where PA1, the audience is in the pot of water crawling to a slow boil, and by the time we all noticed, it was too late. PA2 didn’t make this effort, and instead, traded down for the tired bag of tricks used for the majority of poor horror films, and their sequels. Director Tod Williams was so unsure of his abilities he relies on loud noises to get his scares. And there were plenty of loud noises. When he worries the audience isn’t quite smart enough to figure out what’s happening, he stages an entire scene where dialog is provided for some of the slower viewers.
Still, the cinema verite style, so popular in the genre these days, is still effective. The filmmakers went so far as to thank the “families of the deceased” before the film started, in order to keep a sense of ‘discovered footage’ alive. However, the addition of six stationary cameras, under the guise of home protection, ruins of a bit of effect. This is an unremarkable film that will successfully ride the coat tails of its predecessor.
Paranormal Activity 2 was released on October 22nd, 2010