Remember that feeling of not knowing what you were in for with the first film, and the subsequent dread that stopped you getting a good night’s sleep after watching? Don’t believe anybody who said they weren’t affected by Paranormal Activity; they’re telling porkies. The second film works on the same premise as the first; that CCTV doesn’t lie, only we now know what the deal is, so it’s more a case of waiting for things to kick off and get hell-raisingly freaky.
That’s where Paranormal Activity 2 will win/fail for fans of the first – the waiting. Initial reaction from some is that it takes too long to bring to boiling point, with the first terrifying bang happening a good 20 minutes plus into the film. But you could look at it from this perspective; the film-makers are goading you (as you are familiar with the territory), keeping you hanging on, until they decide when. Indeed, it’s still a highly effective, edge-of-seat experience, helped by the combination of hand-held camerawork and CCTV, which gives it a realistic quality and instant believability. To be honest, the waiting is not too much of an issue, but it’s the fact that some of these ‘emptier’ scenes could have been put to better use, like in the first film – or trimmed.
This time it’s a family’s turn to feel the demon’s wrath that includes a loved-up couple with a newborn son and a teenage daughter who all live with their Spanish nanny and dog. They have the seemingly idyllic, affluent lifestyle in the sun (somewhere in America), as we are proudly taken around their comfortable home in the first few scenes, whilst they introduce their newest family member, Hunter, to their abode on camera. All’s well so far…
Enter ‘Aunt Katie’, played by original cast member, the buxom Katie Featherston who turned into a demonic maniac in the first, dispensing with her boyfriend Micah (Micah Sloat) like a rag doll. This is the moment that you realise the connection, and want to scream, ‘NO! Get her out!’ at the unsuspecting household, the mother of which turns out to be Katie’s baby sister. We are also presented with the message that this ‘footage’ is recorded 60 days before Micah’s death, so it’s like a prequel to the first film, and it implies that one of the girls is the originator of all these paranormal episodes.
Version 2 actually pays homage to legendary horror, like Amityville Horror (spooky basement that bangs and scratches), The Exorcist (possessed family member) and Poltergeist (creepy TV and radio static), complete with a scene that makes you want to repeat blonde little angel Carol’s infamous words, “They’re here…” There’s even a reference to The Omen, with baby Hunter like an emotionless mini Damien-in-the-making, at times, letting off deranged-sounding giggles. It also has the standard horror ‘what-not-to-do’ moments, such as opening a door, alone, after loud thumps have just echoed off it, and playing that fun family pastime, the Ouija Board, when the oldies are out. It also has some silly aspects to it, and boldly points to a possible third film, too.
In short, and not wanting to reveal too much more, fans of the first should go and see Paranormal Activity 2 as it ties in neatly with the first, whilst still offering bang, scream and growl for your buck. Admittedly, it doesn’t have quite the freshness of the latter, but this is hardly surprising. However, the franchise does have a lot of mileage still, and it may well give some a sleepless night – if nothing else, it’ll have you clutching a crucifix under the duvet in anticipation.
By L G-K