Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Brian Boland, Sprague Grayden, Molly Ephraim, Tim Clemens
Director: Tod Williams
Writer: Michael R. Perry, Oren Peli
Cinematography: Michael Simmonds
Original Score: N/A
Running Time: 90 mins.
Much like the original Saw film before it (and a great many other horror films) Paranormal Activity burst out of nowhere and went on to surpass The Blair Witch Project as the most profitable film ever, given this as Hollywood’s penchant for draining a horror franchise for all it’s worth Paranormal Activity 2 really is the years biggest no-brainer, especially when the Saw franchise is apparently on its “final chapter” we are in dire need of a new horror franchise to plug that gap (note the sense of sarcasm!). So the question now remains, will Paranormal Activity go the same way as every other horror genre example and suffer the law of diminishing returns, or not?
Not a big surprise this but it certainly doesn’t offer some amazing feat in cinema and prove to linger in that ever elusive group of sequels that better their original, however it is not the severe mis-step and excruciatingly bad watch that The Blair Witch Project 2: Book of Shadows presented us with a year after success akin to Paranormal Activity, though at least that film had the gall to try something a little different (to its cost). Paranormal Activity 2 safely stays in the home-video/lost footage genre relocating us from the first films young couple aesthietic to one where, as horror film lore suggests a sequel should do, introduces a family that features a baby, a teenager and a dog, something of a surprise they didn’t hold at least one of these elements back for the inevitable three-quel!
The main problem Paranormal Activity 2 has when held against the original is its lack of just that, originality, last year it was a little creepy film that crawled under your skin largely through the air of mystery and surprise around the plot we can all relate to and “that” ending, this time we lose both of those factors and with the suspense and shock lost all we are left with is a film that treads exactly the same territory a little too safely (night 1, pan falls, night 2, door opens and closes, night 3, baby is dragged from cot and dog is riled…so on and so forth). The family are likeable enough but the introduction of “the superstitious mexican nanny” is a cliché too far and attempts at a teen-movie element seem to have slipped in from another even more lacklustre film, on the plus side the couple here are infinitely more likeable than Katie and Micah ever were…
And talk of the devil, Micah and more significantly, Katie, make a return as this is yet another sequel that acts as a prequel which presents us with problem number 2, the same exact problem the Saw franchise has found itself falling further into. For in attempts to slot past events into a story that didn’t exist before it comes off as hackneyed and leaves gaping holes in both films, again like Saw this cheapens rather than enhances the series, and make no mistake the ending suggests there is much more Paranormal Activity to come and find itslef shoehorned into a write it as you go mythology
The one saving grace is the film’s ability to make you jump, there is no doubt that once again we can all relate to the things going bump in the night and it provides the requisite friday night horror you may just be craving just don’t expect to leave the auditorium a nervous wreck or to remember anything about this cheap horror film, in every sense of the word.
Shunting around ike a ghost train, Paranormal Activity 2 is a predictable and largely dull ride with sporadically cheap shocks that won’t stay with you beyond the ride.