If you’ve read my review for Paranormal Activity, you know I loved it. If you haven’t read it, what the hell? I didn’t watch this franchise in order, but I highly recommend you do. So, stop. Rent the first one and then come back to this. The first film in this franchise was made for mere pennies and became a box office smash. Three years later, the studio released the much anticipated follow-up, Paranormal Activity 2. No fancy subtitles in this franchise. A sequel is a great time for the studio to screw up and ruin a franchise, especially when the first film was low-budget and a surprise hit. Lucky for me, and horror, this sequel is awesome. You’ll notice I gave it the same score as the first, which is a first for me.
Paranormal Activity 2 centers around Kristi, the sister of Katie from the first film. Kristi and her husband Daniel live in California with their baby Hunter and Daniel’s teenage daughter Ali. Much like the first film, weird noises and occurrences happen around the house, mostly at night, and start to freak out its inhabitants. I know what you’re thinking - how can the same plot be scary? I was skeptical, too. However, this film is just as creepy and unsettling as the first because weird happenings in a house are always creepy, no matter how many times you see them. This film builds suspense just like the first and I was definitely on the edge of my seat. More people in the house adds to the fear because it validates it. First, only the maid/nanny felt like something was going down, and I got worried. But then Kristi felt something, and I started to sweat. Finally, Ali starts to freak out and now I’m really freaking out too. At this point, the audience is thinking, “If all of these people think something is going to happen then it probably is.”
Since this franchise uses cameras and footage, it has to be creative with the camera to keep things original. The audience doesn’t want to see the same camera in the bedroom like the first film because that’s been done before. The secret to this franchise is coming up with new ways to integrate the cameras. In this film, the family gets robbed at the beginning, prompting them to install security cameras throughout the house. Now the audience is dealing with multiple cameras, which only creates anxiety. As the screen switches between the camera in the backyard and the camera in the baby’s room, the audience is nervous and wonders what’s happening in other parts of the house.
I thought this film was just as riveting and scary as the first, and I loved how pieces of the story connected with the first film. I didn’t get tired of the cameras or the slow-building suspense. The reason this film (and the original) work is because nothing happens until it happens. The audience waits and waits and waits for so long they pray something will happen and then all of a sudden, something does happen and the audience wishes it hadn’t. It’s pretty genius. These films are both so simple, with barely any story or cast, but they rock. Horror is lucky to have them.
If you liked Paranormal Activity 2, you might also like Paranormal Activity 3, Paranormal Activity 4 and Poltergeist.