Happening in the months leading up to its hit 2009 predecessor, Paranormal Activity 2 follows Katie’s sister and her family as they experience a series of similar paranormal phenomenon in their home. Determined to get to the bottom of the increasingly threatening occurrences, they decide to set up a net of security cameras in and around the house to see what really goes bump in the night. Alas the terror only escalates, pushing each of them to their breaking points as they confront a ruthless being that feeds off their very woe and angst, that sickeningly wallows in their fear until revealing its final master plan…
Despite arguably cloning original’s formula, this is still a largely enjoyable and chilling sequel. Although if you weren’t a fan of the original’s slow-burning and brooding terror, I find it hard to see you appreciating this. It stays true to the original’s creed, taking time to develop characters and subtle tension as it slowly creates an increasingly suffocating repertoire of intimate horror. The ‘evil’ remains invisible and shrouded in eerie shadows for the most part, playing at the terror your imagination can evoke as opposed to visceral scares. The final twenty minutes is essentially a resonation of all the progressive tension built up, hitting hard with almost unbearable suspense and thrilling scare sequences that bring the film home intensely right until the very last disturbingly grim frame.
But with all that being said, I can’t say it totally measures up to the original’s level of brilliance. The security camera shots were a little corny and didn’t have the effectiveness of the infamous darkened bedroom shot in the original. I also found the acting to be considerably weaker and the pacing a tad off the potency of the original.
Nevertheless, the film captures the essence of brooding, intimate horror perfectly; which is most vital.
I won’t spoil anything too major, but I will say it ties in with the original’s story with surprising competence. Katie plays a major role, whilst Micah also makes a couple of appearances. Oh, and it most definitely sets up for another sequel. Paramount are obviously pushing hard to make this the next big horror franchise.
Overall, I was yet again sufficiently creeped out and satisfied by this second journey into the ‘Paranormal Activity’ universe. The characters were detailed and layered as they faced interesting personal demons as well the evil that haunted them, the atmosphere was great as it focused predominantly on stark and foreboding imagery, and best of all, it wasn’t a lame Hollywoodization of good non mainstream material – It kept absolutely true to the tone of Oren Peli’s subtle yet profound masterpiece, as well as adding interesting twists and turns to the intriguing story.