Director: Tod Williams
Writers: Michael R. Perry, Christopher Landon, Tom Pabst, and Oren Peli (original film)
Cast: Brian Boland, Sprague Grayden, Katie Featherston, Molly Ephraim, and Vivis Cortez
Rated: R (some language and violence)
2009′s Paranormal Activity hit a lot of people by surprise. Oren Peli’s little film from 2007 turned into a smash hit three years later, breaking records and claiming its spot as one of the most successful movies ever made (making over $190 million from a $15,000 budget). Horror was back in the mainstream. With dollar signs in their eyes, studios execs had milk this money cow the best way they knew how: a sequel.
Rather than going the Blair Witch route and making a dramatized sequel, PA2 surprisingly sticks to the original formula (albeit with a budget 200 times that of the original film’s) with “real” footage and every day situations. What was even more surprising was that the film manages to take what worked with the first film up a few notches while even weaving in a new story to fit in with its predecessor.
Paranormal Activity 2 follows the Rey family. It starts off with simple home videos of newborn son Hunter, but quickly turns into a combination of home video and security camera footage after an apparent “break in” spooks the family. Soon after, mysterious things start happening around the house. The maid Martine, who apparently has knowledge of evil spirits, begins acting strange which eventually leads to her being fired. Wife Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) notice the most activity, while dad Dan (Brian Boland) is quick to dismiss the events (much like Micah in the first film). The family’s dog is also having encounters of her own, but more importantly it’s son Hunter that the demon seems most interested in.
Inevitably, the paranormal events increase as time goes on. What this film does well, which may even be what some viewers dislike with the film, is the build up. Many scenes are drawn out and silent (an aspect I have always thought is overlooked in horror). We think we know when something is going to happen, sometimes we’re right and others not. The film was unpredictable for me and it did a great job coming up with new scare tactics. I’m sure the haters of these films saw it all coming and thought the drama with the family was irritating, but for me that’s what made this film credible and effective. Quickly dismissing the film because you don’t find doors slamming and things moving on their own scary (there’s an awesome kitchen scene) would be a mistake – this is not a film to titillate but one that is meant to get you involved in the family and experience what they are as if it is real. To me that’s a whole different movie watching experience.
How the story plays out through the film gave me mixed feelings. It did lead into the first Paranormal Activity storyline with Katie (she has a few appearances here) well, but the ending may have been a bit abrupt. I’m sure Paranormal Activity 3 will have even more elaboration on the story, so I’m hoping for a bit more satisfaction in that department when that comes. Overall I highly enjoyed this film. I had fun watching it but most of all I felt something for the family and wanted to know what was going to happen. The film shouldn’t be dismissed as another attempt at a horror trend, but embraced for bringing horror to the mainstream while actually having some substance and yes, creativity. I recommend watching these movies alone in the dark for the full effect, while going into them not having any assumptions. Ignore the hype and ignore the hate, just watch expecting nothing and you may be surprised. IMDb/trailer | Official movie site