Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Paranormal Activity 2 (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Katie Featherston

Directed by Tod "Kip" Williams

It’s no secret that we at Dread Central have been long-time champions of Paranormal Activity. When we first saw Oren Peli’s minimalist masterpiece at its original 2007 festival premiere, we were so joyously creeped-out that we spent the next several years screaming about it from the rooftops. But no one could foresee the huge numbers and pop culture impact that came when Paramount finally unleashed it to the world last fall.

While that film made us into believers, the announcement of a Hollywood sequel turned everyone back into skeptics. The original didn’t exactly beg for a follow-up, and almost instantly people began throwing around Blair Witch 2 jokes. Sequels are tough. Sequels to cinema-verite are damn near impossible. So it is my extreme pleasure to report that the people behind this film have accomplished a minor miracle: Paranormal Activity 2 is every bit as scary as the original. In fact, it’s the Godfather II of found footage movies. This is what Aliens is to Alien.

Paranormal Activity 2 follows Katie’s sister, Kristi (referenced in the first film), and her family as they encounter the same malicious spirit that haunted them in their youth. When they return to find their house wrecked, the family members believe it to be a burglary and install security cameras across their entire property, via which most of the action takes place. At the center of it all is Kristi’s newborn baby, Hunter, whose eerie birth seems to have triggered the paranormal forces.

Paranormal Activity 2 (click for larger image)Indie filmmaker Tod (The Door in the Floor) Williams takes over directorial duties from Peli (stepping in as producer), and he masterfully handles the cinema-verite style without missing a beat. Even though he has an actual budget to play with, Williams never devolves it into an FX show, instead playing everything out practically through the same creepy minimalist techniques. As a result, we actually have a big studio sequel that doesn’t lose the indie spirit of its predecessor.

The formula is pretty much the same this go-around, but part of what makes this one so effective is the familiarity. Knowing what this family is up against makes things that much scarier, and the second the words “Night #1” flash onscreen and the eerie bass drones and thumping footsteps start shaking your intestines, it feels as if you’re thrust back into an old nightmare. What’s even more impressive is how the creators have duplicated the same experience without making the found footage angle seem contrived or repetitive. In general, sequels catch a lot of flack for over-explaining or screwing up major story elements, but the writers effortlessly tie this in with the original. Without giving anything way, there are several cause-effect revelations that will send people running back to their DVD players to revisit the original.

It goes without saying that Paranormal Activity 2 won’t win over any new fans. If the first film didn’t do anything for you, neither will this one. But if you felt the effects last time, if you hesitated before turning off the light or felt nervous in a room by yourself, prepare to feel the same again. This is a rare sequel that complements and enhances the original without betraying the elements that made it work in the first place, and watched back-to-back, it's the perfect one-two punch of creepy excellence. Every creak and groan in your house becomes suspect, and going to sleep is that much harder. Believe it, folks; lightning can indeed strike twice, and this flick will hit you with frightening force.

4 1/2 out of 5

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nonserviam03's picture

loved it. Didn't "wow" me quiiiiite as much as the first movie, but it's very effective, very well-written, and ties everything together nicely.

Felt it dragged a bit towards the beginning (which I really didn't feel at all with the first one), but when it gets rolling, it REALLY gets rolling.

It does what a sequel needs to do.

Submitted by nonserviam03 on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 1:51am.
deadbysunrise's picture

I cant wait to see this. The first one gave me the willies for weeks.....

Submitted by deadbysunrise on Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:54pm.

I can't believe I'm saying this......but I actually enjoyed PA2. In fact, I thought it was superior to the first. Two of my friends thought the exact opposite which surprised me.

Submitted by LSD Zombie on Mon, 10/25/2010 - 9:57pm.
kiddcapone's picture

My Paranormal Activity 3 script: Night 1: I watch tv. Night 2: I watch more tv. Night 3: I scratch my balls lying on the couch. Night 4: I hear a bang noise. Night 5: I pick lint out from between my toes. Night 6: A pot falls off the rack. Night 7: I hear another bang noise, then take a poop. Night 8: I order Domino’s pizza and drink beer. Night 9: A door swings open by itself. Night 10: Another pot falls, my dog barks at the closet, and the cellar door shuts by itself. Night 11: I buy a Ouija board and try to contact evil spirits. Night 12: I get dragged off the toilet by an unseen force and something bites my leg. Night 13: Katie shows up and throws me backwards into the camera. THE END.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Mon, 10/25/2010 - 9:30am.
Terminal's picture

Now all you need is talent. This is the generation of people who want it in your face and bloody, so it doesn't shock me that people don't agree with the PA movies.
"We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life."

Submitted by Terminal on Mon, 10/25/2010 - 9:59pm.
kiddcapone's picture

Only through blatant ignorance can you possibly lump everyone who doesn't like the PA movies into that simplistic category. I guess it's easier for you that way. The SAW movies are "in your face and bloody" and none of them would even crack my top 200 list.

I prefer my films to be entertaining. The PA movies are simple one trick ponies following the same exact blueprint with bad actors and now the uber-lame "first born in exchange for wealth" backstory that is Tales from the Darkside eye-roll worthy. How many fucking times are they going to write a movie with next to nothing taking place for 70 minutes, then someone getting dragged by an invisible demon, biting someone, and then someone getting thrown at the camera to end the film? I mean, seriously? It was basically the same film taking place in a different house. I have NO IDEA where you people saw the movie, but BOTH PA movies I saw, the audience didn't jump or scream, they were dead silent and moaned when the credits rolled.

This is not Final Destination. If you want to have a franchise, up the ante and do something different each time. People blasted Blair Witch 2, but at least that sequel didn't have 3 bad actors in the woods getting lost and ending with someone standing in a corner. That is basically what PA2 did.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 1:09pm.
Terminal's picture

Some scary stories rely on imagination and old factory Devices to get people riled up, this is a society now that wants it fast, violent, and in your face. For someone to classify this movie as seventy minutes where nothing happens?

THAT is blatant ignorance.
"We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life."

Submitted by Terminal on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 2:30pm.
kiddcapone's picture

What "Paranormal Activity" happens in the first 60-70 minutes of the movie besides: A pot falling down, bang noises, the baby mobile spinning, and doors opening by themselves?

In PA1, the slow buildup has a decent payoff. You can tell the intent was to show the demon slowly gaining strength and attacking at the end. I get it. But in PA2 that doesn't hold water. Why? Because the demon has the strength to tear apart the entire place inspiring the need for cameras. If it had those kind of supernatural powers, why waste several months doing absolute jackshit like minor thumps? If it wanted the baby so bad, drag the kid into the basement. Possess someone. Burn the house down. Was the spirit really really really really bored to waste months on rookie scare tactics?

So, I guess in PA3, PA4, and PA5: The Final Thump Noise, it will STILL SCARE YOU if the first 2/3 of the movie is filled with thud noises, lights turning on and off, doors closing, and finally ends with someone get dragged, bitten and thrown at the camera.

All they needed to do was increase the amount of shit happening more quickly and NOT follow the same exact fucking blueprint of the first film and I would have been more impressed.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 3:33pm.
Terminal's picture

@kiddcapone: Wow, you figure a guy with an Exorcist avatar would know something about demonic workings. In the movie Pazusu just moves a drawer for the priest because he feels it's a cute display of trickery and one that is very misleading and sets down their guard. He takes great pleasure in revealing his true unleashed power in the final moments of The Exorcist and does so at the behest of the challenge. Putting all the power in to one display is pointless and doesn't add to the gradual breakdown of sanity and humanity.

It's EXACTLY what the demon does in PA. He plays with Micah, he toys with him, puts his guard down and unleashes his real motive in the final moments of PA.

Sad, man, you should really do your homework.
"We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life."

Submitted by Terminal on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 7:09pm.
kiddcapone's picture

Did you even read a word I wrote? That's basically the same EXACT thing I said. That is my problem with PA2 not PA1. It worked in PA because it makes sense the demon gradually increases his demonstrations of power as the fear rises and the targets sanity starts to slip. That doesn't happen in PA2. It starts off by destroying the ENTIRE house, and then resorts back to rookie 101 ghost haunting tricks for the next several months. It doesn't make any sense the demon would start off strong and then barely muster up turning on a light or dropping a pot when it's clear it had the power to do whatever it wanted at any time. That's just plain stupid.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:00pm.
The Buz's picture

"But in PA2 that doesn't hold water. Why? Because the demon has the strength to tear apart the entire place inspiring the need for cameras. If it had those kind of supernatural powers, why waste several months doing absolute jackshit like minor thumps? "

That's much too vulgar a display of power, Kidd.

Submitted by The Buz on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 4:01pm.
kiddcapone's picture

Great response to an obvious plothole in this poorly written carbon copy sequel.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 8:57pm.
Sirand's picture

That's not a plot-hole. It's your perceived logic problem.

Because there is basically no modus-operandi for how the demon operates, that's not really much of an argument. For all we know, the house was torn to shit when the demon came into this world from the basement (which is strongly implied).

The first and foremost explanation is that if the demon went batshit nuts, there would be no build-up, no tension and NO MOVIE.

Submitted by Sirand on Wed, 10/27/2010 - 4:36pm.
kiddcapone's picture

"The first and foremost explanation is that if the demon went batshit nuts, there would be no build-up, no tension and NO MOVIE"

And here's the problem, there was NO build-up, tension, and not much of a movie to be found when you use the SAME EXACT blueprint of the previous film. None.

Paranormal Activity only works as a stand-alone movie. Period. It's a one-trick pony using an innovative method of cheap filmmaking. You can't do that SAME again and expect to have similar results.

Seriously, answer me. What if there's a PA3, PA4, and PA5. Are you REALLY going to sit there and watch lights turn on and off, doors open by themselves, and bang noises for over 60 minutes until things finally turn interesting 5 CONSECUTIVE TIMES !?!?!?! REALLY !?!?!?! How many times can they pull this off until it loses all effectiveness for you? For me, one. It did work for PA, not for PA2.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Tue, 11/02/2010 - 10:36pm.
Tristan Sinns's picture

>>"when the demon came into this world from the basement (which is strongly implied)."



Because the demon is from hell, and hell is located deep underground in the infernal underworld? Did they really imply something taken so ham-fisted literal from Christian literature?

That it even gave a shit about a cross annoyed me - that it crawled up from a literal 'hell' is outright obnoxious.

Submitted by Tristan Sinns on Wed, 10/27/2010 - 5:16pm.
Sirand's picture

Never thought of it as a religious thing. Again, almost everything in the PA is left so deliberately vague. But the basement seemed to be important along with the "stain" I think implied some sort of entry point or significance to the entity.

Submitted by Sirand on Wed, 10/27/2010 - 5:55pm.
Sirand's picture

Don't quit your day job.

Submitted by Sirand on Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:46pm.

I smell a blockbuster.

Submitted by Billz on Mon, 10/25/2010 - 9:33am.
kiddcapone's picture

Sometimes I REALLY think everyone at Dread Central gets paid big bucks to over praise and over hype all things Paranormal Activity. I just don't get it. The only thing PA2 succeeded in was boring me MORE than PA1 and I never thought that could happen. Congrats!

Submitted by kiddcapone on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 6:32pm.
Ultimo Franco's picture

Kiddcapone, I don't get it. You say in the above post that you never thought that PA2 could bore you more than the first movie. But on the boards you gave the first movie a score of 8 out of 10!

Also on the boards you listed the first movie in your 10 Best of the Decade!

Submitted by Ultimo Franco on Sat, 10/23/2010 - 7:22pm.
kiddcapone's picture

Is it not possible to change an opinion? Is that not allowed? After my first watch, I really did like PA. But once I bought it on BluRay and rewatched it a few times, I completely soured on the entire film. It has ZERO replay value what-so-ever. The reason it worked the first time around was because I was on the edge of my seat not knowing what to expect next. Once you see the wizard behind the curtain, the film just dies and THAT is not what makes a great/best film. It's like going through a local haunted house attraction around Halloween time more than once. The novelty wears off and it just get annoying. Once you know where all the people are hiding, it becomes boring. When you anticipate all the "scares" it loses all effectiveness, and there's nothing else INTERESTING taking place in the film what-so-ever outside of those few select moments.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 8:18am.
GJW's picture

Hahahahahaha. New nickname:kiddcontradiction?

I have to return some video tapes.

Submitted by GJW on Sun, 10/24/2010 - 11:11pm.
The Buz's picture

Mother fuck if we were getting paid to promote this movie I'd be fucking rolling in it right now!

But sadly, not the case. Just really dig the movies. :)

Submitted by The Buz on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 10:25pm.
moderator If it makes you feel better,
Debi Moore's picture

If it makes you feel better, kidd, Mr. Dark absolutely HATED PA2. In fact, he's on a mission to keep as many people as possible away from the theatre this weekend.

Submitted by Debi Moore on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 7:56pm.
kiddcapone's picture

Yeah, I saw that, but it doesn't negate the fact almost every single day I check the DC news (which is great and my #1 reason for joing here, btw) it's dominated by Paranormal Activity stuff. As we speak, there's 15 news articles posted and 3 of them are PA releated. It's a daily occurance. It's almost like this site was guaranteed a percentage of box office revenue or something (which I know isn't really true, or is it?, lol).

And all this publicity for a movie that is BORING.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 8:14pm.
moderator And next week it'll be Saw
Debi Moore's picture

And next week it'll be Saw 3D that dominates. If the studios send out promotional materials and/or there are news stories about a movie that's opening, we put them up. I wish we could give the indies as much love sometimes, but the cold hard fact is that demand doesn't always equal supply.

Submitted by Debi Moore on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 8:51pm.
moderator It's boring to you. When
Steve Barton's picture

It's boring to you. When news happens we break it. This is the big movie this weekend. Same thing happened with Last Exorcism, The Crazies, Piranha, etc. You just notice more now because you hate this flick! LOL

And for the record over the last 2 days we did like 5 stories on Saw 3D. It's just the nature of the beast.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 8:35pm.
moderator If you didn't like the
Steve Barton's picture

If you didn't like the original, then why did you even bother? LOL If something doesn't work for you that doesn't mean that everyone has to think it sucks, dude. Different strokes, ya know? And for the record ... this one took on a life of its own. It's up to the fans and the public to turn something into a success.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 6:59pm.
kiddcapone's picture

I give all movies a shot, even if I don't like the original. I've never been a person who thinks my opinion trumps all and if I think it sucks, everyone else should too (don't confuse me with Andrew, lol).

Most movies I can at least SEE why others might like it, even if I hate them (Romero zombie movies for example) but this one is a real head scratcher. It's two films filled with absolute nothing. While the first one DID contain several scenes that registered on the creep scale, this one just rehashed the same exact shit. Thumps? The invisible drag? The bite? The non-believer? The Quija? The fly towards the camera? Ends with Katie disappearing? ALL BEEN DONE BEFORE...AND BETTER the first time around.

PA2 added to the storyline of the first and served no other real purpose. It wasn't scary in the least. What is the point of having video cameras if the family almost NEVER reviews the footage? Don't you think they should have watched what happened to Hunter when the daughter was locked out? But, nope.

Many nights not a fucking thing at all happened. After an hour into it, I said to myself, self, if they show me the camera view of the fucking pool one more time I'm going to throw my drink at the goddamn screen. If you're going to continue to show the friggin' pool cleaner thing, just ONCE show something. Anything. If you subtract all the time showing NOTHING HAPPENING the movie would be 5 minutes long.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 7:29pm.
moderator I hear ya, man. We'll agree
Steve Barton's picture

I hear ya, man. We'll agree to disagree.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 7:36pm.

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