If you saw Paranormal Activity in theaters last year, then you know the drill. It’s like any other run-of-the-mill theater going experience, that is, until we see things from the camera’s point of view. Once we see that night-vision, grainy footage fill up the screen and the seconds start ticking by on the bottom right side of the frame, all hell breaks loose. You immediately hear a chorus of yells saying “Oh shit, oh shit!”, people shushing each other, and of course that one guy in the theater who just has to make wise-cracks. It’s like a collective conscious takes hold of the theater, controlling what we do (theater demon, maybe?).
With Paranormal Activity 2, it’s the same…except since we all know the way in which the movie is going to operate, the filmmakers take things slowly and decide to screw with us much more. They know exactly how our minds work; the second the camera footage comes on and lingers on a certain shot, you immediately will start frantically scanning the frame for any hint of subtle movement. This is an attempt to catch the scare before it catches you, so to speak. I’ll let you in on a little secret though: you will fail.
The story deals with a family who, after experiencing what they think is a break-in, decide to install cameras all over the inside and outside of the house for security measures. But of course, all the cameras will do is show them the stuff we hope is never happening in our residences while we’re asleep. While the first movie had just its two central characters, Paranormal 2 adds some more elements into the mix: we get a husband and wife, a baby (you know that can’t be good if you saw the trailer), a dog, and a teenage daughter from the husband’s first marriage. If doors slamming shut by themselves (which we know the naysayer must insist was “the wind”) isn’t enough, lets add a creepy baby that can sense the demon!
The interactions between the family actually took up a good portion of the first half (perhaps even a little too much), and so little actually happened scare-wise, that when the slightest thing happened, everyone jumped. This surprisingly assists the movie overall. Because things are so uneventful in the first half, we expect things to happen very gradually, like in the first one. Wrong! When things got bad, they got catastrophic. It all starts happening so fast that you won’t even know what hit you…you’ll just start cursing yourself for seeing this movie instead of that new happy Disney movie that’s out.
The Paranormal movies fall into that somewhat-new genre that became all the rage when The Blair Witch Project came out. The movie opens with words on the screen saying: “Paramount Pictures would like to thank the families of the deceased and the San Francisco Police Department…”; our cue that this is another “found footage” film. The magic of these movies is that because so little money is put into them, and because it looks like footage that anyone with a cheap video camera could film, it scares us on a much more real, more personal level. The actors talk directly to the camera, make funny faces at it…all the stuff we do when someone is filming us just for fun.
Plus there’s no crazy setting. It’s just a regular house. So if the film doesn’t scare you out of your mind while your watching (which believe me, it will), it sure as hell will mess with your mind when you get home, guaranteed. Paranormal Activity 2 brought on horror to such a degree that I found myself shaking by the end. My friend turned to me and said “You’re sleeping over tonight”. It wasn’t a question, it was a given. And we turned every single light in the house on, including the one in the bedroom, before going to “sleep.”