“Paranormal Activity 2” is in many ways inferior to its predecessor. It is the sequel to the critically acclaimed 2009 film of the same name, and unfortunately it doesn’t offer much more than the first movie. Despite maintaining a similar feel and style to the original, “Paranormal Activity 2” removed the most important and vital aspect that a horror movie needs — namely, the horror.
The first “Paranormal Activity” was an independent, low-budget film that DreamWorks eventually bought for $350,000 and released in theaters. It was received well by critics and audiences alike, and went on to gross around $200 million dollars worldwide. The prospect of making a sequel to such a lucrative film must have been a no-brainer — less than a year after the release of the initial film, we have “Paranormal Activity 2.”
“Paranormal Activity 2” begins with the birth of a child named Hunter and it follows his family, the Reys, through their interaction with evil spirits in their home. After they find their house trashed (but no possessions missing), the family installs security cameras throughout their house. The movie then uses a combination of both handheld camera shots as well as security camera footage to tell the Reys’ story.
The movie also doesn’t use any music or score; rather a low-frequency rumble is played in scenes with high tension. It is certainly a unique and interesting way to build suspense, and is used quite well. The use of “shaky cam” and security footage joined with a lack of music creates a realistic and eerie mood that certainly sets the scene.
However, the movie takes a very long time to get to the action — instead, it takes that time to introduce the characters to the audience. Suprisingly, the writers do a good job at making the family endearing. The Reys are a fun-loving and quite witty family — they have some good-one liners and I found myself laughing at more than one of them. Also, the actors do a good job at making their characters sympathetic and relatable. Making sure the viewer is emotionally invested in the characters is obviously important for building tension, but the movie takes too long to get there.
On top of that, the scary scenes never seem to place the Rey family in much danger. Pots falling and cupboards opening don’t seem entirely sinister. The majority of scary moments are fleeting — they are usually just loud noises at unexpected moments. Up until the final scene of the film, the scariest thing that happens is when the infant, Hunter, levitates over his crib. The climactic scene definitely ramps up the action, but is so brief and predictable, that it is hardly worth the wait.
Also, the movie does not stand on its own very well. “Paranormal Activity 2” is a sequel that is not meant to be watched on its own or by audiences who did not see the first film. The plot relies heavily on the original film — in fact, for the viewer to comprehend the final twist, they must have seen the original film. In addition, the twist feels both convoluted and uninspired.
Although “Paranormal Activity 2” certainly contains some good elements, it neglects the most crucial element of all — fear. Horror movie enthusiasts go to the theater for one simple reason: to get scared. “Paranormal Activity 2” simply does not deliver in this regard. Despite containing some good elements, the film fails to live up to the success and acclaim that its predecessor achieved. Save your $10 — wait to see it until the movie hits the Multimedia Library or Netflix.
Penney is a member of the class of 2013.