|Tags: Blumhouse Productions, demonic, ghosts, Kevin Greutert, Michael R. Perry, Paramount Pictures, paranormal activity, prequel, sequel|
Ah, Paranormal Activity 2, the most unnecessary sequel since, well, Blair Witch 2. But when a micro-budgeted film grosses more than 100 million dollars, it’s impossible to debate the reasoning to want to turn it into a franchise. The first time I saw the original Paranormal Activity I dug its simplicity and occasional effectiveness, but upon a repeat viewing, found my affections wavering. Now out comes the sequel, shrouded in secrecy, using similar storytelling techniques as the original, but with varyingly mixed results.
I’m actually hard pressed to refer to the film as a sequel as, aside from the last five minutes, it takes place before the events of the first film. So this prequel tells the story of Katie’s (the girl in the original) sister as her and her husband welcome their new son into their home, already occupied by a teenage step-daughter. After an apparent break in to their house, the family installs a series of security cameras for safety reasons only to be confronted with the fact that their home has been invaded by the unseen entity that will eventually terrorizes Micah and Katie.
Unlike Blair Witch 2, PA2 keeps with the same “found footage” shooting style of its predecessor. And while I’m absolutely sick to my stomach of this overused technique, its rash of popularity recently makes sense of why the filmmakers would return to the style. I thought the security cameras was a good way of changing it up a bit, but the times when the characters actually picked up their home camcorder is what ultimately pissed me off.
In most found footage films, there’s a reason why the person is recording. Whether it is that they’re making a documentary, like Blair Witch or Last Exorcism, or a news broadcast as in REC/Quarantine. Hell, even the first Paranormal justified it by simply saying things were already going haywire in the house and Micah wanted to capture it. But for the most part in PA2 there is simply no reason why these characters should be recording these random snippets of conversation. It gave me the feeling that all the characters just walked around with a camera and just randomly would hit the record button when they felt like it was time to explain the plot.
The filmmakers try to expand on the reasons why this demonic entity is circling around this particular family. Through a simple Google search, the teenage step-daughter is able to deduct that the demon has set its sights on her new baby brother, Hunter. Now, she comes to this conclusion rather early on in the film, so at this point I ask, why the eff would she not check the security camera in Hunter’s room to see all this shit happening around him. Like, really?
My other qualm with the film might very well come down to audience you see it with. There are some scenes that are meant to evoke fear and set an ominous tone for things to come, but they just came off completely laughable. To keep spoilers at a minimum, I’ll just say that the scene showing what happened to the pool vacuum and how Hunter got out of his crib sent the crowd I saw the film with into fits of laughter.
Even though they grated on your nerves after a while, the characters in the original felt fleshed out and more than just demon play things. Not so much in this film. I mean, the acting some genuine enough, but there was nothing to these people. I think I connected more to the dog, Abby, than any of the human characters. Which should be apparent by the fact that Abby and the mute baby, Hunter, are the only character names I can remember off hand.
In an attempt to look on the positive side, I will note that some of the scares in the film do actually work and occasionally catch the viewer off guard. The best examples being some of the more subtle movements throughout the house, such as the baby’s crib mobile. As well as a scene that takes place in the kitchen in broad daylight. And I do give the filmmakers credit for at least attempting, and sometimes succeeding, to create a continuously rising tension throughout the run time.
But at the same time there were also missed opportunities. The baby monitor is shown up close at one point with a static noise emerging from it and I assumed that would have come back into play at some point, but no dice. And also some of the more frightening imagery in the trailer (you know, the pieces that people were freeze framing and posting online) weren’t even in the movie. I feel like I was more forgiving of the original due to its micro budget grass roots feel. But this is a semi healthy budgeted studio picture and ultimately feels like one.
Paranormal Activity 2 is a movie that never should have been made, so with that being said, it could have been much worse. The scares that do work are one of the films few saving graces. But combined with all of the shortcomings it’s just not enough to save the film from mediocrity and feeling as if it’s nothing more than random scenes strung together.
|Posted on October 23, 2010 - 10:27am | Johnny D|