Film Review – Paranormal Activity 2

Paranormal Activity 2 (M)

Directed by: Tod Williams

Starring: Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim, Katie Featherston

Three and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

In a time when horror films over-rely on gore (Saw series) and Hollywood insists on an endless line of remakes (Friday the 13th, Halloween etc), Paranormal Activity reminded us that sometimes it is the simple things that really get under our skin. Creaky doors, swinging chandeliers and other household objects moving by themselves became so ludicrously cliche in the genre over the decades that it was more fitting for a Scream inspired movie to come out and poke fun at them, not embrace them.

Alas, Paranormal Activity did embrace them and was one of the few movies that gave me sleepless nights with its less-is-more attitude. And now things are still going bump in the night because that pesky demon from last year’s box office hit made on a shoestring budget is back for more supernatural shenanigans.

More like a prequel than a sequel, the haunting of a cute young family caught on security cameras happens before the events in the original. If you can get past the clunky and derivative set up (if these events happened before the first one, then why did we see the haunting of Micah and Katie first) there are plenty of scary good times to be had.

After a family with a newborn come home one night to find their entire house trashed but nothing missing, they are understandably rattle, so they decide to install several security cameras to make themselves feel more at ease. Around the same time, strange things begin to happen around the house.

The pool cleaner, that is put in the pool every night is found out of the pool every morning and doors swing open and close by themselves. But for a while this only happens while the family sleeps.

The family becomes wise to the creepy incidences when they view the footage and Mum and step-daughter think the house might be haunted, but Dad thinks it is all hooey. Sordid family secrets and past ghostly encounters are hinted at when Katie (from the first one) visits with her sister to discuss the strange goings on. They decide out of fear to never mention it again.

But just because you try to forget something, does not mean it will go away. In fact, in this case it just seems to make things worse.

Part of the fun of these films is that explanations are only suggested and hinted, never fleshed out, which manages to crank up the tension as things around the house slowly start moving by themselves. Impressively, one of the biggest scares happens in broad daylight – one minor twist on the tradition that gives more mileage to the scenario.

The film toys with the audience to the point where you want to yell and throw our pop corn at the screen. We stare at static shots for minutes on end which forces us to dart our eyes across to every corner of the frame looking for something to happen. Such techniques will ensure multiple viewings to make sure we haven’t missed something move in the background or a shadow on a wall. The director Tod Williams’ ability to drive his audience into a frenzy is admirable.

There is more added to the mythology and in doing so it becomes increasingly murky and silly towards the end, but the journey getting there rivals 10 roller coaster rides. As with the first, there is room for another outing, but i think that would be pushing things a bit far – there are only so many creepy swinging doors you can see before it becomes a boring cliche again.

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