Screenplay:Michael R. Perry
Producers:Jason Blum, Oren Peli
Starring:Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim
THEY DID IT!!! I’m amazed, they actually succeeded in releasing a successfully terrifying follow up to the 2009 surprise break-out smash hit, “Paranormal Activity”, which grossed over $193 million worldwide on the anemic budget of just $15 G’s. They delivered a white-knuckle film worthy of carrying the name of, and I don’t say this lightly, one of my top ten scariest films of all time. “They” being director Tod Williams who takes over for Oren Peri who is now a producer this time around. “Paranormal Activity 2” is a spine-tingling success. It may not reach the fright level of the original due to the novelty of that one but by the end of “PA:2” it is an event to behold, that is, if you can hold it.
Horror films are the least critically successful genre but when done right they are the most rewarding. To be authentically scared (and scarred) at the movie theatre is something that becomes sparse with age and so must be savored like a fine wine. You may pooh-pooh 2009‘s “Paranormal Activity” but that film scared the Christian in to me (more that I already am). I couldn’t look down my hallway for six months without whispering a little prayer and I can think of no bigger compliment to give a director of a horror film.
Sequels are even harder to do but rest assured this is no “Blair Witch 2”. I shouldn’t say sequel but in fact the brilliant idea of prequel, starting “PA:2” three months before the first film ended. Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) are back but in smaller roles as this time around we follow Katie’s similarly evil spirit plagued sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and her family which includes husband Daniel (Brian Boland), step daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim), Martine the nanny who knows something’s up, baby Hunter and the family dog who know even more but are both unable to speak.
After Kristi’s house is mysteriously broken into, a six camera 24-hour around the clock security system is set up. What a simple smart device to record all the bumps in the night to come. Like the first film, Tod Williams keeps the pace deliberately very slow, using repetitious shots of the humdrum house which inches up tension brick by tense freaky-deaky brick. Shots held on pots and pans or a pool-cleaning unit become sinister without anything happening. Until sinister stuff does start happening when the viewer is rewarded for keeping their eyes peeled on the screen at all times (if they can) and on all four corners of the screen. The scares are more frequent and more sustained in “PA:2” and the goose bumps stay on high alert for the last 15 minutes, fantastically giving a better climax than the first.
Some of what works for “PA:2” also can take away. Brian the dad, is just the right amount of much needed humor but is basically a carbon copy of Micah from the first film as the wise cracking successful male who’s the last one to believe. Maybe Katie and Kristi just have the same taste in men as the added lore invented for this film hints to. All in all, it didn’t really bother me as “PA: 2” didn’t try to fix something that wasn’t broken, using the strengths of the first film and heightening them.
“Paranormal Activity 2” is the perfect scream inducing, hair standing up on the back of the neck, grab the person next to you film for the season. Let’s just hope I can walk down my hallway again.
Let’s just hope for “this”.
Review by Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com