For the sake of full disclosure, I loved Paranormal Activity. I had a blast with it. It reminded me of the old school horror movies I grew up on watching with my Grandfather. So to say I was looking forward to Paranormal Activity 2 would be an understatement. Thought sequels rarely are better than the first, I would take a weaker version of the first Paranormal over the current strain of horror movies that seem closer to watching a creative snuff film than actually being scary.
This sequel, or really prequel and sequel does a wonderful job at what it sets out to do. Staying within Katie’s family from the first Paranormal Activity, we meet her sister, brother-in-law and niece on the day her baby nephew comes home from the hospital. We see the family dynamic and the love that is obviously there. It then skips a couple of months to when baby Hunter is probably around 10 months or so and starting to walk, then the fun starts.
Under the excuse of the home being supposedly broken into, the father has security cameras installed throughout the house. The main cameras we get to see is from a corner in the kitchen a corner in the living room, a shot of the backyard, a shot above the front door, a shot of the stairs and hallway and from a corner in the baby’s room. Additional footage is added from a hand-held video camera that the daughter is normally carrying about for various reasons.
The effects are very good. The sound is wonderful and does a great job of making you anticipate what is going to happen and upping the excitement. What is impressive is that the effects are enough to get you nervous but you never actually see anything bad truly happen through the vast majority of the movie accept for the last five minutes.
But what is probably the best part of the movie is how it directly contributes to the first movie’s plot. In the first movie you don’t necessarily understand why things are happening, they just seem random. Here, they are explained within this movie’s plot. Also the first movie’s ending was left very open ended, now we know why. This movie truly wraps around the first one creating a mythology about this family that helps make it go from a haunted house to the Faustian bargain.
There are some pacing problems which for a horror movie in particular, a bad thing. Also, there were moments that I don’t think were intentionally played for laughs but none less got them. And though a normal issue with horror movies but really seems noticeable in this one, not understanding why characters do what they do. There is two moments where there is no explanation as to why a character just doesn’t do the obvious. One scene in particular is a bit disturbing for the lack of handling the situation properly. Even a teenager knows you don’t leave a baby in the house by themselves. If locked out, you call Mom and Dad or get a neighbor for help. How that scene plays out is so ridiculous that it pulls you out of the movie.
This movie is fun though and really is best on the big screen with an audience. It allows everyone to feed off the vibe of the theater and make it a really enjoyable experience. And if you are a little bit on the scaredy cat side, bring a friend. Walking out of the theater to get into your car after this movie can be a little creepy.