Now available on DVD is Paranormal Activity 2, arguably THE most anticipated movie of 2010. This follow up to the 2007 sleeper hit Paranormal Activity doesn’t pick up where the first left off, instead part 2 is more of an inception piece, a prequel - starting a few months before the incidents that unfold in first.
Part of what made Paranormal Activity so incredibly creepy was this story built around the idea of real life being captured on video, a la the “found footage” style that made The Blair Witch Project a hit. Only this time it was done correctly. Paranormal Activity 2 doesn’t fail with a reasonable explanation of how all of these “real life” occurrences, just as in the first installment, are captured on film. When Dan Rey (Brian Boland) and his wife Kristi Rey (Sprague Grayden ) come home to an apparent burglary, though nothing is found missing, the couple decide to get an alarm and security cameras installed into the house. The cameras may seem like a small explanation for how it is that this story gets told through the lenses of camera that’s not “movie camera” but this is one of the elements that make Paranormal Activity 2 simply brilliant. Director Tod Williams and writers Michael R. Perry, Christopher Landon and Tom Pabst obviously paid attention to the detail of the plot and that small detail had a big pay off and the idea that “real” life was really captured “as is” all the more convincing.
Though more weird things continue to happen – unexplained noises, unexplained doors slamming, and even proof of an automatic pool cleaner being removed from the pool without the assistance from anyone, Dan is particularly hard to convince that the seemingly innocuous sounds and creeks heard in the middle of the night are much more sinister than he wants to believe.
On the other hand, Dan’s daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) and the nanny Martine (Vivis Cortez) aren’t so convinced that the mysterious happenings are harmless ones. Ali attempts to find clues via a trite standard in creep shows, an Ouija board! Unfortunately due to Dan’s incredulousness, he terminates Martine after catching her attempting to rid the house of demonic forces by cleansing it with burning sage. A move he will soon regret!
The thing about the PA movies is that they aren’t only scary; they are smart and have raised the conscience of “scary movies” to a new level. So much so that some refuse to even see them. Quite naturally we, the movie going audience, have become desensitize and harder to frighten after seeing countless reworked versions of masked monsters chopping up helpless victims. However, just as it was in Paranormal Activity, there is no blood, guts, boogie man masked villains hiding behind door ready to pounce and stab the next victim…its theatre of the mind at its best! Therefore, the categorizing PA2 as a horror movie is a bit of a misnomer. Regardless of what category you want to place this movie in, PA2 is so spine-chilling…you WILL lose sleep!
One of the best performances in the movie is the dog, who does an amazing job of enhancing the creep factor. Animals, particularly with dogs and their super hearing, have always been thought to possess some sixth sense that we humans do not. As a result it was all the more credible to have a dog that clearly sees an unwelcome presence yet …we still aren’t sure what “it’ is!
Technically, continuity did appear to be problematic with PA2 with several goofs. One in particular was during the inspection of the house after the seemingly burglary, we see that the R in their sons name (Hunter) , which is in spelled out with block letters on his bedroom door, is missing. Then, in subsequent shots the R reappears. At first I believed this was an insight to something to come but it did not. Fortunately for the kind of movie that PA2 is, the flubs somewhat play in the films benefit because you question and assume that every one of those little things that aren’t adding up is somehow part of the master plan to scare, spook and mystify you.
For me, great movies (and any other great works of art for that matter) are better left untouched and rarely do remakes, sequels, or prequels do those greats any justice. PA2 is one of those rare instances. PA2 could’ve easily been released first and the first released second and it would have still held the same thrill, fear and suspense as the other. The two movies are as equally interchangeable as any other two movies I’ve ever seen and easily one of the best sequels/prequels ever made. Thankfully Paranormal Activity 2 was not something that rolled off the horror movie making conveyor belt.