It's not often that you can say a sequel is an improvement on the original movie, but it's nice when it happens. Paranormal Activity 2 takes what was good about the first movie and keeps it going, while learning from the mistakes of the original and doing it better. The result is an effective and creepy ghost story that builds good tension and surprises in all the right places, with an ending that left me a little breathless.
The story of Paranormal Activity 2 smartly bookends the original, acting as both prequel and sequel and filling in lots of gaps, incorporating the characters of the original in tangential but important ways. The premise of the new movie is a big improvement over the original. Instead of a couple using a single camera specifically to record "paranormal phenomena" (an idea I found entirely too obvious and a little insulting), the family in Paranormal Activity 2 sets up a security system in response to an apparent break-in at their home early on. The difference may seem a small one, but it makes the movie easier to buy into from the get-go, and it makes for a big improvement in how the story is told.
Stylistically, the use of security camera footage, mixed with some handheld video, makes for a scarier experience overall. Much of the early footage quickly establishes a good rhythm and the overall feeling is both more stark and more full-bodied, like you're simply seeing the daily life of a family, more and more upset by a disturbing presence in their house. Of course, in a good horror movie, rhythms are made to be shattered, and when things start to happen the result is creepy and occasionally shocking. While the movie never gets gory, the ending is fast and brutal and satisfying.
When I saw the original Paranormal Activity, I saw the possibility of a really good film but the potential was partially squandered - scary moments, but overall disappointing. The sequel takes the same idea and expands on it, making a more believable, more frightening, and overall better movie overall.
It's so refreshing to see a sequel that does it right.
“Paranormal Activity” was an Indie Horror smash hit with a tiny budget of $ 11,000 as a limited run in Indie theaters and horror conventions. It came even as a huge surprise that it has earned more than $ 60 million domestically with a $ 193 million worldwide box-office take. The film was such a huge success that the studios scrambled to make a follow up. Well, this time the director of the first film Oren Peli returns as producer with Tod Williams as director. There are actually … more
*1/2 out of **** I don't blame director Tod Williams for the failure of "Paranormal Activity 2". I blame the studio for wanting to expand on a premise that seemed just about worn out by the time the original film ended. I also blame the studio for wanting to cash-in on America's arrogance; they know most of us are idiots, and that we will pay to see disposable garbage such as this, and they exploit the fact. Simply put, this movie is a product of greed. Why so many horror … more
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY was flat-out one of the scarier movies of recent years. The simple story, told with the low-budget device of all the events being captured on a home camcorder, was remarkably effective and the film gave a sensation of reality and was extremely creepy. Most "scary" movies just go for giving you a jump-in-your-seat moment…if t hey can momentarily make your heart beat faster, that's success enough. PARANORMAL actually made me feel a little bit anxious, even after the film was over.   … more
If we don't find ourselves as scared as we did a year ago, it's because, this time around, we know exactly what to expect. There will be phantom thuds. There will be objects that move on their own. There will be doors that slam without the aid of a living person or a sudden gust of wind. In "Paranormal Activity 2," many of these phenomena are preceded by the sound of a low-frequency rumble, which essentially gives audiences a signal to prepare themselves, reducing the fright factor … more
A brilliant little horror gem -- much like the original but perhaps a bit more nuanced due to the way it expanded on the use of video footage -- PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 is one of those rare sequels: it actually builds upon the original and, debatedly, surpasses it. It's a clever way to pay homage but also stake out its own territory. A wonderful & scary li'l surprise!