Theatrical Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2
Writer: Michael R. Perry (screenplay) , Oren Peli (characters)
Director: Tod Williams
Cast: Katie Featherston, rest of cast unlisted
Studio: Paramount Pictures
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY had a budget that could buy you a Honda Civic, maybe a soda (12 ounces), and nothing else. Yet, the atmospheric, very low budget film made over $107 million at the domestic box office. Numbers like that are only going to quickly turns thoughts ro sequel for the studio that now owns the formerly independent property, and guess what happened quickly after PARANORMAL ACTIVITY was released? A lot of things, as a lot of things are always happening in the world, but one of the least surprising was that PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 was greenlit.
The plan was to release PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 in theaters around the same time the following year (the first film also came out in late September), leading to a natural worry for some that the now looking-to-be-a-horror-franchise would lose its tension and frights and become a studio horror outfit with a recognizable name. The sort of property where the main focus no longer becomes quality scares, but rather just having a new horror film every year with "PARANORMAL ACTIVITY" in its title to rake in the cash of all the audience members again. An understandable fear, and one that I might have had, but I’m not admitting to anything. Prove it.
And if you could prove I was seriously worried about PARANORMAL ACITIVITY 2 from the beginning, you would have evidence that I was wrong, as PARANORMAL ACITIVITY 2, like its predecessor, is a well-played, slow-burn horror film that makes me ready for round three, which I’m sure will happen around this time next year.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 finely weaves the story of the first film into the second picture, making the enterprise much more epic. We don’t just get another story, but rather an idea that creates a grander scope of the story we were already told with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. We are given a look at the time period right before first film but from a different angle - that of Katie’s sister, whose family unfortunately had a run with something paranormal right before Katie (Kate Featherston) and her doomed boyfriend Micah (Micah Sloat) did.
Were both Katie and her sister attacked by something demonic? Surely there is a connection, and there is, and it’s a bit out there. However, one of the biggest strengths of found footage films is that their style makes the story feel real, even though it may have plot points that seem a bit silly. It makes it easier to buy the more outlandish developments, which causes the information or scenes to be quite scary because logic naturally tells you that this is impossible, but yet you are presented the information in a way that comes off authentic. And yeah, I didn’t tell you the details because, spoiler alert: I care about your horror experience.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 follows its older brother's path like a champ, taking its time, setting things up nicely, while sprinkling in some good scares and unnerving moments to keep us interested before the horror hits the jet speed fan in the third acts. There are several grab-the-person-next-to-you in terror moments (sorry to the understanding man that sat next to me) that, as mentioned previously, are even more creepy and jarring because of the film’s style. The filmmakers behind PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 realized why the first film worked so well and had the confidence and necessary restraint to make a new product on the same level.
Okay, now I’m going to make things a bit more personal and address PARANORMAL ACTIVITY as if it was a real person: Hey, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2, thanks for being awesome, and hopefully we can do this again next year, just continue not to change. And, do you want to hang out later?
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