Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
10Feb/110

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Andrew INDIFFERENTThe true success of Paranormal Activity 2 is that it managed to make money without changing the broad strokes of the first.  Sure the budget is a little higher and that means that we get not one, but five different camera angles to show the spookiness from.  But overall it's the same beats, the same incredulity about demons, and the exact same ending as the first film.

As it is a horror film I must report that I was not scared.  That said, I wasn't bored because despite the broad details being the same the specifics in the acting and technical department are much improved.  This is the second verse, same as the first, but a little less loud and not quite worse.

Paranormal Activity 2 is a sort of prequel that takes place 63 days prior to the first film and runs until the events are parallel to the first.    We're introduced to the family of Kristi and Dan Rey (Sprague Grayden and Brian Boland) who have recently settled into a big home with their infant son Hunter, Dan's daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) and a protective German Shepard.  There's a burglary that takes place one day and it shocks the family so much that they install a home security system to watch every inch of the home.  Then strange things start happening and the housekeeper (Hispanic of course) tries to ward the spirits away but poor papa just doesn't believe her.

Maybe the demon would leave this family alone if they ditched their creepy artwork.

The appeal of the series seems to stem from the old Where's Waldo? books.  The typical scene is a stationary camera shot from the security system during the middle of the night.  There's one little detail that is slowly changes until it's presence has been underlined and made obvious to even the most casual observer of the screen.  This is the demon playing tricks on the family and, I suppose, trying to exercise it's haunting muscles so that it can do something Big And Scary.

This detail has always irked me about a number of possession movies and it's no different here.  Why, if the demon is capable of possession, does it need to do so many little things before finally setting out the big score?  Does it have a sense of humor?  Does it have some kind of quota of "just jerkin' ya around" moments that it needs to fulfill before it's boss will let it through with a proper possession or act of violence?

It's a bit fruitless for me to pose these questions of a film that just wants to scare me but since I wasn't terribly scared those were the thoughts I had.  I wasn't a fan of the first film and found it to be gratingly terrible at times.  Many folks were terrified of a door moving a few inches in the middle of the night and that's not a phobia I share.  Then there was the matter of the acting which was, hands down, some of the worst I've seen onscreen in some time.

Get used to this sight, it comprises about 40 minutes of the run time.

This sequel had a slicker sheen that is more aesthetically pleasing.  They still haven't solved that problem of why a blue filter is over every security camera even when the lights are on, but I've just come to accept that as the standard horror color until someone decides to do anything different.  Even the acting is far more improved since the actors in this film end up seeming far more real and scared by remembering that "naturalistic" acting does not mean "not acting".  This didn't total up to make a good movie but at least it helped the time pass by a bit more comfortably than the original.

I admit that watching this film from the safety of my home and DVD player probably does not make me the best audience for this.  I did my best and turned the lights down low but it just didn't help.  This is a dull series of movies that has so far required us to sit in attention through 90 minutes of creaks before a minute of banging brings the whole film to a close.  The craft has improved but the imagination is lacking.  I'll sit through Paranormal Activity 3, but only to see how many more cameras they can fit the production space.

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
Directed by Tod Williams.
Written by Michael R. Perry, Chirstopher Landon, Tom Pabst, and Oren Peli.
Starring Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland and Molly Ephraim.

Posted by Andrew

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