“Paranormal Activity 2” Movie Review

     As “Paranormal Activity 2” unspools, I sat there in my theater seat with my heart beating out of my chest, sweaty palms, and a truly unsettling feeling.  There is something to be said about watching uncomfortably silent footage, just knowing something is going to happen, but you don’t know exactly what or when.  With PA2, you get about 90 minutes of this feeling and when you are armed with the knowledge that comes from having viewed the original last year, your anxiety level reaches an astronomical level.

     Director Tod Williams was given this, a major task in creating the follow up to one of the most successful and influential horror films of all time and he had less than one year to do it.  The result could be an upgrade from the original.  If you can get past the fact this is no longer a new concept and view PA2 as a continuation of what is a fascinating story, then you are sure to have a frightful movie experience.  As was popularized in the “Scream” films, PA2 follows all of the conventional sequel rules.  There is a higher body count and a much more complicated setting.  I’m not ready to declare PA2 as a sequel which betters its original, but it is close.  I’ll admit I was very uneasy when returning to our dark home after the movie and this is because PA2 is quite effective in what it does.

     The film is really not a sequel by definition, rather it is a prequel and the majority of the events take place before the first film. When the film begins, we are introduced to Dan and Kristi and their newborn son, Hunter.  It is soon revealed Kristi’s sister is Katie from the first film.  Both Katie and Micah (Katie’s boyfriend from the first film) make appearances throughout when they visit Dan and Kristi during family get togethers.  With about 60 days left before the events of the first film occur, Kristi and her family begin to experience strange occurrences in their home that Dan typically attributes to easily explainable reasons like the wind being responsible for doors shutting behind people by themselves.  In the home is a state of the art security system that records 24 hours a day and captures the spooky goings on for our viewing pleasure.  I’ll stop there and let you discover the rest for yourself.

     Like the first film, PA2 was an abundance of very shocking moments and that in itself is quite impressive to me.  I knew these moments would come, but the film was still triggering a constant emotional response from me during the entire viewing.  I didn’t feel right during the film and I certainly didn’t feel right after.  Even as I write this review, alone in my house in the middle of the day, I still think I’m hearing noises upstairs!  That my fellow moviegoers is what movies of all types are supposed to do to you.  You know you’ve seen a bad film when you don’t remember it the next day.  Conversely, you know you’ve seen a good one when you can still feel it.  Sure, anyone could watch PA2 and naysay it to death, laugh at the shocking moments instead of letting them get ahold of you and scare you like they’re meant to.  I equate that attitude to those who went into “Titanic” and scoffed at the love story and then pondered why they were watching a film where they already knew how it ended.  I don’t know why these types of people even go to the movies.

     The writers really nailed this one and the actors give great performances.  The ending is as shocking as the first film and the scares are equally as effective.  What the filmmakers have done here is taken a novel concept and gave the story behind it a logical extension.  As you will see, this is not a sequel that was made just to capitalize on hype, rather it was made to tell the whole story and make more sense of what you saw in the original film.  For me, that is the definition of a worthy sequel.