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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.86%
Worth A Look: 11.43%
Pretty Bad: 37.14%
Total Crap: 2.86%

2 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Paranormal Activity 2
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by brianorndorf

"Different year, same thumps in the night"
2 stars

I wasn’t much of a fan of the 2009 no-budget blockbuster, “Paranormal Activity.” A film cursed with abysmal acting and shallow scares, the picture nevertheless enchanted a nation of horror fans, rocketing a movie made for little money to blinding box office glory. And why not? Genre fans were starved for something with a little crude fright to it, devouring a movie that wasn’t concerned with torture or schlocky theatrics. It wasn’t innovative, but it was a pure event, finding itself in the right place at the right time. Paramount Pictures, eager to pounce on a phenomenon they stumbled ass-backwards into, ordered up a sequel in a hurry. A year later, we have “Paranormal Activity 2,” a prequel of sorts that flattens the initial burst of surprise into irksome retread.

With new baby Hunter in the house, parents Daniel (Brian Boland) and Kristi (Sprague Grayden) are eager to settle into their lives, supplemented by Daniel’s teen daughter, Ali (Molly Ephraim). When unexplained occurrences start breaking up the daily routine of the household, Daniel is skeptical, while Ali surveys the spooky shenanigans through her camcorder and various security cameras stationed around the property. For Kristi, the supernatural elements carry a darker history tied to her sister Katie (Katie Featherston), who comes to visit the family, yet tenaciously refuses to cooperate with the investigation.

Did you have any burning questions after “Paranormal Activity” concluded? I know I sure didn’t. Paramount assumes everyone did, so they’ve struck a tone of explanation for the follow-up, prequelizing the stuffing out of “Paranormal Activity 2” as a painless way to sniff out a story that could support a hastily assembled second lap.

Replacing original franchise mastermind Oren Peli is Tod Williams, a director last seen with the 2004 drama, “The Door in the Floor.” Because when one thinks of nerve-wracking horror, Tod Williams automatically comes to mind. Williams is an odd choice to helm this low-fi prequel, especially when much of the film insists on rehashing terror beats from the previous picture. “Paranormal Activity 2” is practically a remake at times, once again staging a demonic haunting inside a suburban dwelling, which drives a passive, disbelieving couple crazy. The fresh elements here are Ali and family dog Abby, who remain the only two who understand the gravity of the situation, acting with a refreshing sense of logic Peli could never muster for Katie and boyfriend Micah (Micah Sloat, who briefly returns here) in the earlier feature.

As found in the previous film, the frights are staggered out over a few weeks, with much of the action confined to the eerie irritants found in the security camera footage. Pans are knocked around, pantries and drawers explode, and the basement holds a wicked secret it wants to share with Kristi. Scary? Not really, unless you count endless cheap jolts to be chilling, which, according to the grosses of the first film, many do. Williams doesn’t bring anything to the prequel besides a fatter budget and valuable hindsight, which beefs up the film nicely, allowing for more advanced special effects. The rest is just more of the same, with the cast aggressively trying to sell the “reality” of this found-footage picture, which only reinforces its obvious artificiality.

Besides freaking out the audience with thumpy haunts, “Paranormal Activity 2” looks to piece together this puzzle in full. Whether or not there was a puzzle to begin with is entirely up to the viewer, but the prequel seeks to provide a reason for Katie’s possession and, as unlikely as it sounds, a reason why Micah loves video cameras. Wow. Williams is ordered to add layers to the goofy make-em-up mythology being assembled here, but it’s a halfhearted pass at rooting the film in humdrum motivation. The idea behind the series is far too brittle to support a weighty sense of significant, emotionally turbulent history, and the last thing the producers should be doing is encouraging folks to dig deeper into what’s merely a cinematic version of a campfire ghost story.

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originally posted: 10/22/10 23:38:06
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User Comments

1/05/16 brian How to do a "found footage" film. It's still just meh, but not awful. 3 stars
8/27/12 David Pollastrini The best of the series. 4 stars
3/10/11 action movie fan good sequel to first-some really scary moments 4 stars
2/14/11 mr.mike Some good scares , still pales in comparison with # 1. 3 stars
2/08/11 Kim Kelly In real life this would be terrifying, on screen it was so so 3 stars
11/25/10 ALICE I think they are both very good ! 4 stars
11/18/10 joey johnson Could of done without seeing, First one was much better. 3 stars
11/10/10 mistermanager I have the first one on bluray 5 stars
11/10/10 Steve Benkin I laughed thru the entire movie.. and so did the rest of the audience. Need I say more? 2 stars
11/06/10 dean shuck boring,,just like the first,maybe a little better 3 stars
11/03/10 damalc better in parts, the same bad shit as the first in parts 2 stars
10/30/10 M.J. The first one didn't scare me at all and this one was even worse. 3 stars
10/30/10 tooktheredpill brians rating is right, but first movie was much better 2 stars
10/29/10 Debra DeLeone Not as good as the firstovie. 3 stars
10/29/10 Kim Kelly Not as scary on screen as it would be terrifying in real life.. but fun overall 3 stars
10/28/10 dale schmucker too predicable 3 stars
10/26/10 Stormy Rockweather nice to the kids are clamoring for straight-up scares, too bad they pay for shit like this 1 stars
10/25/10 Juan S while not exactly innovative, the film had some scenes of genuine tension. its aiight 3 stars
10/25/10 David A. The reality tv format gets boring after a while, and the daughter's screeching is annoying. 2 stars
10/25/10 Ming I did not like the 1st one...This one is the same formula..Stupid ending 2 stars
10/24/10 Flounder Mr. Ondore's review is WAY off the mark. This is a superlative horror picture. 4 stars
10/24/10 Ace-of-Stars Unnecessary sequel. This one's too busy, pretentious & over-the-top. Ruins the 1st movie. 2 stars
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  22-Oct-2010 (R)
  DVD: 08-Feb-2011


  DVD: 08-Feb-2011

Directed by
  Tod Williams

Written by
  Michael R. Perry

  Katie Featherston

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