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Max’s Rating: 7/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.5/10
(2 reviews total)
There’s no doubt about it: “Hand Held” films aren’t going away, not when they can produce so much money for so little cost and, when it comes to horror, produce a collective scream from an entire auditorium of viewers. The issue with such films is how they play with the concept of control, specifically with what the audience can and cannot see (a big complaint of the recent film The Last Exorcism). If any film(s) is ahead of the pack in this developing genre, it would be the “Paranormal Activity” series.
Paranormal Activity 2 expands the world set in the first, focusing on Katie’s (Katie Featherston) sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and her family, welcoming newborn Hunter to the family and taking place three months prior to the events of the first film. After returning home to find their house completely trashed (with nothing stolen), the family has several security cameras installed to investigate the source, recording a series of escalating events whose only cause can be supernatural.
Ultimately, if you enjoyed the first film, you’ll likely eat the sequel up. In many ways, it’s more of the same. The buildup is still sluggish, if a little more entertaining thanks to the script (the family is likable enough and the newborn is cute).
However, as the film goes along and the paranormal events escalate (sooner and more aggressively than the first), Paranormal Activity 2 ever so slightly raises the ante set down by its predecessor.
The trick with “Activity 2” is much the same as the first one: it’s not what you see, but what you hear that scares you more. It’s a testament to sound design how shots can go silent for what feels like minutes when really, only a few seconds have passed. When the silence is broken, by whatever means, it jolts the audience to react, whether they’ll admit it or not.
Thankfully, with a slightly increased budget, “Activity 2” is able to afford more than one legitimate jump moment (unlike the first), moments we refuse to discuss here.
Suffice to say, Paranormal Activity 2 is very much like the first, if not better. It rewards the viewer scouring the screen for the smallest detail, builds appropriate tension while expanding the characters introduced in the first and provides more than one decent thrill to reward its slow buildup. However, it should be noted that what gives the film its power is not so much the film itself, but the audience.
The giggles followed by a staunch silence followed by screams: The “Paranormal Activity” series is a strong example of how communal viewings can alter how we take in films, for better or worse. In the case of Paranormal Activity 2, it’s certainly for the better. At home on DVD, it can lack punch. In a sold out movie theater surrounded by speakers, it’s wildly entertaining.
Paranormal Activity 2
Directed By Tod Williams
Written By Oren Peli (characters), Michael R. Perry
Starring: Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Simon thought: “When I first heard of an ultra-low budget film called Paranormal Activity, I soon after sent the trailer to a horror-loving but incredibly chicken friend of mine. She quickly exclaimed she would never see it because it would be too scary, to which I reassured her that it would never see a wide release anyways. Some more time passed and we came to a bet that if it ever did get a nation-wide release she would go see it (a threat I never thought would come to fruition). Fast-forward a few weeks and the haunted house flick is a sensation and becomes the years suspire blockbuster. With the slow build of audience anticipation which brilliantly aped the escalation of terror in the film itself, Paranormal Activity was a phenomenon for so many reasons. Though always cautious of sequels at large, I was optimistic the follow-up could deliver, and while featuring a number of chilling sequences,Paranormal Activity 2 is a straight-up rehash of the first and contains an ending I found as dumb as I did frustrating. The low-budget feel of the first remains to be certain, but as does everything else. There are what feel like direct scenes called up for number two, and with all the potential a ghost story can muster, its lack of creativity was utterly underwhelming.” Rating: 6/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.5/10