(includes a spoiler alert)
If you read my review of the first Paranormal Activity, I hope you got that I was extremely annoyed by the ending of the movie. The ending was too predictable, I hated the back-story, and the last image in the movie was ridiculous. What started off so well basically became too “Hollywood” for me. So here I am again, wanting to see if this movie built on scaring people, could actually scare me, and stay away from the “Hollywood” non-sense.
Paranormal Activity 2 primarily starts off 60 days before Micah’s death. Katie’s sister, husband, stepdaughter, and baby Hunter have been in there home for about a year when their house appears to be vandalized. The father immediately has a security company come to the house to install an alarm, and cameras around the house. Unknown to them, an alarm, and cameras aren’t going to stop this intruder from terrorizing the family. We find out the demon from part one actually paid Katie’s sister a visit first, but why?
While they stuck pretty much to the same formula of part one, they added a few key elements to make this movie work, including the perfect element: a baby. There is something to be said about children, and ghosts, in this case a demon. It adds so much more suspense, intensity, and creepiness to the story. Every time they show the baby alone, and you know the demon is lurking around, it ups the ante. Whether or not the demon actually scares you, it doesn’t matter. It seems like it is a matter of human instinct to fear for the baby’s safety. Something inside of you wants to know what the demon is up to, and you are just dying for someone to come help the baby. It doesn’t help when the baby knows the demon is there, and no one can do anything about it. Throw in a dog that also knows the demon is there, and you are producing some good fear.
Another element they add is more cameras. The stepdaughter uses a normal hand held camera, a much smaller one than Micah used in part one, but it is not the only view you get. There are a bunch of security cameras set in places such as, the living room, kitchen, pool area, and most importantly the baby’s room. At night, they would scroll through the camera views starting with the front door, to the pool area, and then throughout the house. My favorite is the view of the pool cleaner going around the pool. It is almost pointless, but for some reason I got a kick out of it each time they show it circling the pool. At first, it seems a little annoying having to go through all the camera views, but it became a perfect suspense builder, as you want to know where the camera is going to stop, and what is going to happen. Of course, there is always that agonizing pause before the demon does whatever it is going to do.
The other element they add is allowing the demon to scare the family at any time. In part one, the scares come mostly at night, until much later in the movie. There is some tension, but it is expected because the mood is set. You know that Micah is trying to capture the paranormal activity, and most of that comes when they go to sleep. The biggest difference in this sequel is that the scares could come at any second, and oh did they come. To be honest, I think it got me to jump 2 or 3 times. So yes, Paranormal Activity finally got what it set off to do: scare HorrO!
So now that I have answered the fear question, let me talk about the “Hollywood” effect, and back-story. This movie adds more to the back-story about the demon that is following Katie, and her sister. I was waiting for the moment to start being annoyed by the story, as I did in the first movie, but it never came. It just made me think about the events that happened in part one, but now with more knowledge of the situation. As a matter of fact, while it didn’t annoy me, it did make me question certain parts in the original. I won’t give it away, as I prefer to let you experience it for yourself, but just listen carefully to Katie, and think about the events in part one.
Now for a spoiler alert: I am going to make a comparison of the last scene in both movies, so don’t read this section if you haven’t seen the end of either movie.
So at the end of the original, we got to see a possessed Katie throw Micah at the camera, crawl over to him, smell him, and then snarl at the camera before attacking it. Katie being possessed pissed me off, and that ending just topped it off, particularly the snarling at the camera. They were bordering on believability throughout most of the movie, and then, just went too far past it. Then, there is the ending to the sequel. Actually, it becomes a continuance of the end of part one. Katie appears at her sister’s house, and kills the father, and her sister. On a side note, how in the hell did Katie manage to knock her sister into the wall without hitting the baby that was in her arms? It didn’t look like Katie moves her hand, and then her sister magically flew against the wall. To me, it looks like she physically hits her, which leads me back to my question: how can Katie hit her, and not the baby? Whatever; that is not the point here. After Katie picks up the baby, I was waiting for it. It was that “Hollywood” moment again. Was she going to acknowledge the damn camera again? If she did, that was going to ruin my Paranormal experience for a second time, and I was ready to rip the movie. Hey…she didn’t look at the camera; she just walks away mysteriously with the baby. Thank you Paranormal Activity 2 for learning from some of your mistakes.
Spoiler alert over!
Speaking of mistakes, the movie is not perfect, and there are a few things that I question. I already mentioned one, and that was some of the things Micah, and Katie said while at her sister’s home. It just didn’t seem to add up to how Micah, and Katie acted at the beginning of part one. Then, there is a change with the cameras towards the end of the movie. You see the people start vibrating whenever they move. They were trying to add another element to scare you, and show the demon’s presence, but it went on too long. It became annoying, and is to distracting when you are trying to watch what the characters are doing. Also, I question the use of the hand held camera in certain parts. At the beginning, they use it to film the family coming home with the new baby, which is fine. It is also all right when they are filming the baby, but then there are other moments when you can tell they are just filming for the purpose of the showing it in the movie.
A local theater showed Paranormal Activity 1 & 2 back-to-back, so it was good to see part one, even though it annoys me, right before the sequel. It allowed me to make a quick comparison of the two movies, which led me to one conclusion: this sequel was better than the original. For one, it actually did scare me, which is the point of the movie. It scared me because it adds just the right elements to some of the things they accomplished in part one. Second, even though it had its similarities to part one, the back-story didn’t annoy me as much because I have accepted the story-taking place. There is no “Hollywood” ending, which couldn’t make me any happier. I did question a few things about the movie, but overall I think it accomplished what it set off to do so I give this movie 3.5 pools of blood.