Saturday, October 23, 2010

Box Office Review – Paranormal Activity 2


This sequel to the major money maker Paranormal Activity was rushed into production so that it could be released a year after the original. The first film was a well-paced funhouse ride. The sequel takes the original funhouse feel and expands it. The result is a lot of build up with very little pay off.

For most people this movie will work. It has some memorable scares in it and that is what most movie goers will remember. The movie runs a good ninety minutes and unfortunately an hour and fifteen minutes is pure gimmickry. The film starts off with a title card thanking the family of those involved in the film. Like the original film this is meant to establish the following movie as being a real event. If anyone watching this sequel believes that what they are watching is real they should have their movie watching privileges revoked. This title card worked in the original film, but there is no reason to include it in the sequel. After watching the film it makes sense though, because the movie copies every single thing from the original film. There is a ouija board scene, doors opening and closing by themselves, phantom knocking, and a woman being dragged by her leg. It is supposed to be the same demon as the first film, but it would be nice if the demon would switch up its haunting tactics.

Anyway, it turns out that Paranormal Activity 2 is a prequel to the original film. The majority of it takes place sixty days before the death of Micah in Paranormal Activity. We are introduced to Kristie the sister of Katy (the killer of Micah) and her family. She has just had a baby and the first footage is taken by Kristie's step daughter of Kristie and husband Dan bringing home the baby named Hunter (they will be referred to as The Haunted Family for the sake of being too lazy to write their names). Flash forward a few months and we find out that the film is a prequel after seeing both Micah and Katy with The Haunted Family. They come home one day and find their entire home ransacked. The Haunted Family figure that it was a broke in and as a response to this install a bunch of security cameras throughout their house. Supernatural stuff starts gradually happening and The Haunted Family doesn't realise it until it is too late.

The main problem with the film is the use of the security cameras. It is boring watching scenes shot the same way and every single night scene begins by cycling through the cameras. At least in the first film the majority of was shot hand held. After cycling through the cameras a couple times in gets frustrating, then the cycle occurs twenty more times. There are a few scenes shot handheld, but not enough to counter all the security camera footage. It makes sense for the movie to have the security camera as it allows the film to stage scenes in multiple rooms, but thematically the cameras are used poorly. Even after some crazy demon stuff happens in the movie the cameras only get checked occasionaly. So much stuff happens in view of the cameras that it seems ridiculous that it would take so long to accept that there is a demon living in the house.

In Paranormal Activity the character of Micah plays the cynic. He denies ever paranormal experience even though the evidence is right in front of him. His solution to the problem is that he will solve everything because he is an alpha male. You would think that it would be difficult to make a character more ignorant then him in the sequel. If you thought that, then you would be wrong. Dan in Paranormal Activity 2 is even more clueless and alpha male than Micah iss. All his decisions are stupid and his explanations to the scary stuff happening in his house makes no sense. His answer for why the front door swung shut, locking his daughter out of the house is that it was the wind. The answer to why a pan keeps falling off its hook is that his wife isn't putting it on properly. Basically he is a condescending jerk. He should be a character to root for rather than a character to hate.

Paranormal Activity 2 is a series of jump scares strung together with a very thin plotline. While I found myself getting wrapped up in the film I couldn't get over how gimmicky the entire thing is. The movie runs fifteen minutes too long and isn't inventive enough to be memorable. For fans of the first film this will be required viewings, but for others just looking for a scare this Halloween I recommend just re-watching a classic. I guarantee you will have more fun.

A Banana Peel

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