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More Activity of a Paranormal Sort

The final horror film of this Halloween season that I will review is Paranormal Activity 2. I was unsure of this one when I first saw the trailer. I had a bad feeling about it and was convinced, up until the day I saw it, that it was going to suck. I worried that it would suffer from the issues faced by countless sequels since Halloween 3 (Four more days till Halloween- Silver Shamrock).

Paranormal Activity 2 begins with a family who insists on filming the homecoming of their new baby, Hunter. We meet Hunter’s parents Kristi (Sprague Grayden – Olivia Turner from 24), Dan (Brian Boland) and Dan’s daughter from another marriage, Ali (Molly Ephraim). Also present are the nanny, Martine, and their German Shepherd, Abby.  All in all, the typical all-American family with a Hispanic nanny. The beginning of the film is uneventful, but time is not completely wasted: we learn that Martine is either religious or superstitious. This is never really clarified, or if it was, it was explained in Spanish and was lost on me.

We skip a year or so of Hunter’s life and the film picks back up when the family comes home to find that apparently someone has broken in and trashed the place. Strangely, the only thing missing is the necklace given to Kristi by her sister, Katie. That’s Katie Featherston from Paranormal Activity, the only person given acting credit in the sequel.

Katie does play an important role in this film, which is confusing until Micah Sloat makes an appearance where we are told that the events on screen take place two months before Micah’s death. To say that this is a prequel is not accurate, though. It is more of a wrap-around of the first Paranormal Activity.

After the apparent break-in, Dan has some security cameras installed. If you can buy in to the fact that the tiny security cameras record sound, this is an effective way to continue the form of the first film with the addition of the hand held camera, most often operated by Ali.

Of course, things ramp up pretty quickly once the cameras are in place. One horror trope that does play out in this film (that I’m pretty sick of) is the adult who refuses to listen to the kid. I’ll just say that the kid is right and provides us all the explanation we need for the freaky occurrences. With a few well-placed jump scares and a couple scenes that some will surely call hair-raising, the film follows a similar pattern to the first one, but without the provocational d-bag – my least favorite part of the original.

This film is a good, old-fashioned scare and it is smarter than the original, but the ending lacks the punch that PA had. You do get a punch, but it is an interesting choice not to have it right at the end.

How much would I pay to see this one again? $7.00. I enjoyed it, quite a bit. Those that didn’t like the first one, don’t bother. If you did, give this one a shot.

While we’re on the subject of scary movies, what is your favorite movie for Halloween night? I usually start with Halloween, go to The Nightmare Before Christmas (for Trick-or-treating hours) and then move on to something a little more intense. This year, I think it will be Trick ‘r Treat.

Jay Fralick is the co-host of the Wanna Watch a Movie? Podcast

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10 comments

  • I’m still amped to see this movie… I liked the first one more than anyone else I know. Blair Witch is my all-time favorite. Shining, Carnival of Souls (original, not the Larry Miller abortion), The Abominable Dr. Phibes, House of 1K Corpses, Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Dead Deading with the Living Dead Deadness…

  • Great review – v useful too as PA2 is only just out over here and I was planning on giving it a miss after being dragged through n disappointed after the hype if PA. I’ll give this a go to see how it compares! Keep up the good reviews :-)

  • I just remembered I own a Addams Family/ Addams Family Values double feature DVD, so I’ll be playing that in the background of my activities sometime over the next few days.

    I’m not sure why I clicked on this link in the first place… I don’t watch horror movies. I have enough nightmare fodder without them. But thanks for the review?

  • Sequels are hard unless there’s a saga prewritten – even if it’s not fleshed out fully. Writers who have a longer time to congeal a thought tend to have a richer vision, rather than just relying on a quick camera take and vast amplification for a scare.
    BTW, I always thought the Silver Shamrock jingle was pretty catchy…

  • There’s a cheesy Paranormal Activity knockoff called Paranormal Entity on Netflix. I thought it would be hilarious to show it to someone who has never seen Paranormal Activity and yet tell them that it’s Paranormal Activity. Everything they had heard would match, kind of, but it’s f–king TERRIBLE. They would have the funniest/most confusing conversations with people when talking about PA after the fact. “The daughter was awful” “There was a daughter? Are you sure it was Paranormal Activity?” “Yeah, haunted house, they record everything, Blair Witch-style…”

  • Thanks for the review. I enjoyed the first one, I’m sure I’ll enjoy the second. I’ve been watching horror movies all week long. So far the best one has been “The Evil Dead”. Next up is “Fright Night”

  • Great review. I was a person who wasn’t crazy about the first movie at all (too overhyped, didn’t live up to my expectations, hated the ending, etc.). But my husband dragged me to see this at midnight on Thursday, and I’m glad we went because it was great to experience this movie with a packed theater. Not only did I enjoy this movie SO much more than the first PA (in large part due to the acting of Sprague Grayden & Molly Ephraim), but this pre-sequel did what I thought would be impossible: it actually made me enjoy the first movie more now, in context.

    I’d recommend this movie even for people who DIDN’T enjoy the first PA so much, because I feel this one is far superior to the original. :)