Paranormal Activity 2 (2010, d. Tod Williams)
Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” went to #1 on the Billboard charts twice. His sequel “Let’s Twist, Again” only made it to #8. Paranormal Activity, from 2009, was derivative of other horror movies using hand-held video and a found-footage conceit, but it was a creative twist. As for Paranormal Activity 2, I’m sorry, but sequel, prequel… whatever, you don’t get credit for making the same movie twice.
A married couple brings their newborn baby home to their suburban dramatization, and unhealthily video tapes every living moment of their unextraordinary lives. After the house is curiously vandalised, but not robbed, they install an elaborate security camera system that documents every inch of their laminate and Oak Express interiors. So, most of the found-footage from this point on comes via those cameras (which actually helps to address a lot of the “if their so freaked out why do they keep filming it?” criticisms). What we see, from our fly on the wall view, is the hour by hour behavior of some evil apparition, a demon in the house, gradually more and more ornery. Mostly the demon comes in the form of a crescendo of audience-jarring noises. At the beginning of the movie we hear a snap. By the middle is ascends to a crackle. And finally, near the end, the intense pop! My question is, if the demon is so pissed off, why doesn’t he just start terrorizing the family at full volume? Eventually it’s revealed that the demon is after the baby. Well, he should just ask for it. Instead we have 90 minutes of the same wondering when something’s going to happen , the same zombie lady standing around possessed for hours sped-up – all the same spooky tricks used in PA1. In between there’s the continuation of the vague, cursed family back story that has really nothing to do with what’s happening in front of us.
Paranormal Activity 2 operates on this marinating model to build dramatic impact. That would be fine if it weren’t the exact same drama building device they used in the first movie. I don’t dislike Paranormal Activity 2. I just think my movie dollar should stretch farther.