Ever since the ghost of Jacob Marley walked through the door in Alastair Sim’s Christmas Carol, ghosts have been a popular theme to explore in movies. In 2007, Paranormal Activity brought ghosts to a new level by making people poo their pants en masse. Now Paranormal Activity 2 has flown into theaters to prove once again that horror movie sequels can never equal up to their predecessors no matter how hard they try.
Paranormal Activity 2‘s plot is hard to describe without giving away spoilers, but it can be said that it ties in close to the first movie. The story follows a family including a father, mother, teenage daughter, one-year-old son, dog, an ethnically stereotyped nanny and their automatic pool cleaner. Strangely the pool cleaner gets just as much screen time as the rest of the cast. The family gets freaked out after a supposed home invasion and installs security cameras throughout the house. The cameras then pick up the strange paranormal activity, as the title says, that happens when the family isn’t looking. At the same time, the teenage daughter has a strange fondness for videotaping everything she sees and so the entire movie is told through the point of view of the security and handheld cameras. The entire movie feels like a cross between The Sixth Sense and America’s Funniest Home Videos, or just a rip off of the Blair Witch Project.
The scary parts of the movie come in when stuff starts moving on its own, as well as big banging noises happening off-camera. It’s disturbing to see a completely empty room where nothing is happening, then very slowly watch the pots and pans slowly start to rock back and forth on their own, building momentum as the picture switches from one camera to another until finally a pan drops in a huge clanging sound that makes you jump. It really builds a sense of tension and excitement that makes the movie pop.
The biggest flaw the movie has is the previously mentioned horror movie sequel problem. When a movie is original and the kids are running through the woods with two video cameras escaping a witch, the terror is at its most terrifying and the excitement its most exciting. However, when the sequel comes out the audience already knows what to expect. Let’s face it, Mike Myers has killed enough teenagers to populate a high school, Sigourney Weaver has killed more aliens than the death star and Blair Witch 2 was trash. The same is true for Paranormal Activity 2. The audience already knows about the fixed cameras and building suspense with stuff moving, so it takes a bit away from the experience.
The movie’s biggest advantage, contradictorily, is the fact that it helps fill out the plot holes from its predecessor. The movie adds a new element of what the entity wants altogether, and again without spoiling too much, the answer is bone chilling creepy.
For a horror movie, Paranormal Activity 2 really isn’t the worst movie that came out this year. It makes an audience jump and keeps them relatively interested till the end when the movie’s crescendo truly makes the hour and a half worth it, but it just isn’t as good as the first one.
Paranormal Activity 2 is rated R for some language, violence and freaky ghost horror.