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Nowhere Near as Creepy as the First
on February 22, 2011
Allow me to start by saying I'm in the camp of people who loved the first Paranormal Activity. If, however, you *didn't* enjoy the first one, then this one will be an absolute snooze-fest for you, so look elsewhere.
For those of you who don't know, this is a prequel to the first movie -- but only by a margin of weeks, which I think is pretty cool. Katie and Micah are both in this movie -- Katie, much more so -- but neither one gets much screen time (maybe 10-15 minutes total). The format of the movie holds true to the approach in the first: You get a sense of the family and who they are when unaffected by demonic possession, then things happen over the course of the rest of the movie which end in a dramatic cliffhanger of sorts. The main difference in this movie is that you don't have to wait very long to see the family deal with something strange, but they don't start putting things together until later when things happen more frequently. Likewise, instead of one camera, you see things happen via security cameras (which, as you will see in the movie, have a reason for being installed) and a hand-held camera. Lastly, there are many more nights in which the totality of events happen in this movie than in the first, but I rather enjoyed that.
Now, as for my total enjoyment of the movie... well, let's just say I was ultimately underwhelmed. I was entertained and the moments of normal family time were enjoyable to watch (in other words, the movie didn't drag out for me at all), but the scares came primarily in the form of jump-scares where things happen suddenly and loudly, thus making you jump out of your pants for that split-second. For as much as I was personally affected by the first movie after watching it, I was expecting at least some sort of rehash of that experience after seeing this second movie, but alas, I walked away unaffected from the experience.
I'm glad I watched the movie and I will certainly catch the 3rd installment this year, but I won't be seeing Paranormal Activity 2 again on my own accord -- and not because it scared me that much. In my humble opinion, I say give Oren Peli another ~$15,000 budget and have him (and *only* him) go to town once more, because he alone accomplished what he + Hollywood clearly could not with their deep pockets: A sense of realism and intrigue that grips a person and chills them to the bone with an experience that lasts far outside the boundaries of the span of time of the movie itself. Perhaps that is due to how much Peli left to the viewer's imagination in Paranormal Activity versus everything Hollywood gave visual affirmation to here in Paranormal Activity 2. With that said, I did enjoy the continuation of -- and additional historicity within -- the storyline.
Overall, if you liked the first installment, I recommend you see this installment if you have yet to. The development of the storyline and the way they end this movie all ties into the first movie and sets the stage for the third installment in a manner that I'm looking forward to seeing the continuation/conclusion of. Just don't expect to go to bed the night you watch this movie and feel like something is just waiting to pull you out of bed, drag you down the hall and make a snack out of you before possessing you -- at least, not like you felt after watching it happen in the first movie. =)