Sunday, October 24, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2 Does Not Disappoint

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 85 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
Running time: 91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
MPAA – R for some language and brief violent material
DIRECTOR: Tod Williams
WRITER: Michael R. Perry, Christopher Landon, and Tom Pabst; from a story by Michael R. Perry (based on film directed by Oren Peli)
PRODUCERS: Jason Blum and Oren Peli
EDITOR: Gregory Plotkin


Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Brian Boland, Sprague Grayden, Molly Ephraim, and Tim Clemens

It was film festival attendees who first saw, in 2007, the ultra-low budget, psychological horror film, Paranormal Activity. Eventually, well-connected and influential Hollywood types (like Steven Spielberg) saw the film, and Paranormal Activity got a nationwide theatrical release in October 2009, going on to become a box office hit.

A year later, Paranormal Activity 2, which is (mostly) a prequel and (partly) a sequel to the original film, arrives. Overall, Paranormal Activity 2 is about as good and as scary as the original film. There is a difference. The first film started well, but stumbled to an ending. Paranormal Activity 2 is hit and miss for most of its runtime, but it has an edgy last half hour and an absolutely, killer ending. [It must be noted that some of the scenes shown in the various trailers for this movie are not in the theatrical release – like the one with the baby in the middle of the street.]

Paranormal Activity 2 focuses on the home and family of Kristi Rey, the sister of Katie from the first film. Kristi is married to Dan, who is a widower with a teenaged daughter, Alli. Kristi and Dan have just welcomed a baby boy, Hunter, into their happy home. Martine, a Hispanic housekeeper and nanny, lives with them, as well as Abby, the family’s loyal German shepherd.

Paranormal Activity 2’s action begins 60 days before the death of Katie’s boyfriend, Micah, which happened in the first film. After an apparent break-in and vandalism of their home, Dan has a number of security cameras installed inside and outside the house. The cameras begin to record unusual, even weird activity. Martine and eventually Kristi and Alli begin to suspect that they are not alone in the house. Something is vexing them all, especially Hunter.

I compared the first Paranormal Activity to The Blair Witch Project, specifically that the former surpassed the latter. Like Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity 2 is full of characters arguing and whining and then later, crying and screaming. During the first hour of Paranormal Activity 2, I found myself being scared at the cleverly presented spooky atmosphere, but also being annoyed by the characters. It isn’t an exaggeration to suggest that anytime a dog and a baby are the smartest characters in the film that the script may have a little trouble in the character development department.

The last half hour of this film, however, is riveting and absolutely chilling. I think my heart was indeed trying to find a hiding place in my throat, and, as I write this several hours after seeing the movie, I’m still thinking about it. Paranormal Activity 2 lives up to the hype and the original film.

7 of 10

Sunday, October 24, 2010

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