It seemed appropriate to go see a scary movie on Halloween, so that’s what I did. The movie was Paranormal Activity 2, which is kind of a misnomer as it isn’t a sequel. It’s actually a prequel, so I guess it should really be called Paranormal Activity 0.5 or something like that. In any case, I did enjoy the film and I do recommend it…cautiously, and I’ll try to explain why as we go along.
WARNING: There will be some minor spoilers in here, but I won’t ruin the entire movie for you.
As you may recall if you saw the first film, it focused on Katie and her live-in boyfriend Micah and their experiences with some demonic force that harassed and ultimately possessed Katie. This tragic sequence of events led to Micah’s demise and Katie’s mysterious disappearance. PA2 takes place about two months prior to the events of PA1 and focuses on Katie’s sister, Kristi, and her family. Her household consists of her husband Dan, his daughter (though not hers) Ali, their newborn son Hunter, the Hispanic cleaning lady Martine, and the dog Abby. The shit hits the fan right away as they are the victims of what appears to be a break-in. The entire house is ransacked and everything is completely fucked up. However, it doesn’t appear that the intruders took anything as everything is accounted for, except for a necklace of Kristi’s that was a gift from her sister. (I thought this necklace was going to turn into some sort of MacGuffin, but strangely enough it was never mentioned again. Not sure if this was a lapse on the director’s part or if something was cut for time. It was strange in any case.) Naturally, Dan isn’t too happy about his family being put in harms way, so he has security cameras installed throughout the house to make sure this doesn’t happen again. This adds an element that was not present in PA1. Instead of a single, handheld camera documenting everything, you now have several fixed cameras throughout the house in addition to a handheld camera. It adds to the scope of the film without taking away from the pseudo-documentary element and for the most part it was done very effectively.
If you saw the first movie, you can guess what happens from here on out. At first a few strange things start happening. Doors open and close on their own. Items in the kitchen fall down for no apparent reason. The automatic pool cleaner keeps finding its way out of the pool without explanation. Throughout it all, the kids and the dog seem to be the only people who are aware of what’s not going on. The dog often sleeps in the baby’s room and constantly growls and barks at something that isn’t there, and the baby is also often looking around at something unseen by the adults. Ali is excited at first, but her attitude changes when it becomes apparent that it isn’t Casper that’s haunting their house. Dan is in complete denial over the whole thing. Kristi, on the (perhaps misguided) advice of Katie (who, along with Micah, also appears in the film), tries to ignore the problem in the hopes that it will go away. The cleaning lady/spiritual advisor tries to help but is immediately labeled a lunatic, that is until the end of the film when Dan finally comes to his senses and begs for her assistance.
Speaking of which, this was the point where the film started getting a little stupid. It wasn’t enough to make me not like the movie, but it still deserves mentioning. As you probably guessed if you saw PA1, Kristi is ultimately possessed by the demon. According to Martine, exorcising said demon apparently involves taking a small, handheld, wooden cross and soaking it in olive oil, and then doing…something to the possessed with the cross. (Striking her in the face? Shoving it up her ass? Waiving it around screaming “The power of Christ compels you?” I don’t know, it’s not explained very well.) Somehow Kristi ends up in the basement and the power goes out, so Dan has to take the camera down there as the built-in nightvision is the only way he can see. This was almost a carbon fucking copy of the ending of The Blair Witch Project. I almost expected to see some dude standing in the corner as he went down the stairs, followed by a loud thud and the camera hitting the floor. And that’s almost what happened. It was done well, but you’d think they could’ve at least tried to be a bit more original. But this part of the movie is really my only major gripe. Everything else was done very well.
By the way, I haven’t spoiled the end of the movie. There is something else that happens after this that I won’t reveal. I will say it was pretty brutal, but perhaps a bit too abrupt.
Now we come to the final verdict. Here’s the deal: If you don’t like these handheld fake documentary types of movies, you won’t like PA2, so don’t bother. If you didn’t like PA1, you won’t like PA2. Don’t waste your time. If you do like these types of movies and/or liked PA1, you will probably like PA2, though I hesitate to recommend it if you saw the first one because there’s really nothing new here. It does everything that the first movie did. It just cranks it up to 11. You’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. For me, it was a good thing and I give it a solid thumbs up.