Saturday, October 30, 2010

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 2

I should start by mentioning that I really enjoyed the first Paranormal Activity but it's standard business for people to not enjoy sequels so that was far from a guarantee that I'd be a fan of PA2. If nothing else, I actually expected NOT to like it. However, I write this review as someone who was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining I found the movie.

I'm going to skip the synopsis, you can find that anywhere. And I'm also going to avoid spoiling anything beyond saying I found it slick how well they managed to tie the first movie to the sequel.

The night prior to seeing PA2 my wife and I went to a local haunted house with some friends just to do something "Halloween-y." That trip did a good job of somewhat reinforcing what was good about PA2. Walking through the intentionally tight hallways with the tight turns that prevent you from seeing anything ahead of you has you constantly on edge and ready to have something pop out at you. You know something is going to jump out at you eventually, it's just a matter of when.

Paranormal Activity 2 is a trip to a haunted house, not an art gallery. During each scene my eyes were scanning left and right and up and down to see if I was missing anything subtle. And there are moments where small things move or turn that are very unsettling if you catch them. And, must as with a well designed haunted house, sometimes the obvious time for a scare is bypassed just to tease the audience.

The scares are good, there could have been more of them and there is an element of "too little" happening going on at times. There are plenty of things to complain about with the movie and I'll reference Anything Horror's review:

As with the first film, some of the exposition feels forced at times, and the use of the hand-held video often seems out of place. Kristi’s step-daughter is a precocious teen who, after a disconcerting babysitting encounter, inexplicably films herself searching the internet for an explanation. Of course, she conveniently finds the perfect wikipedia-like paragraph for what could be happening in the house, and she has her boyfriend read it out loud to her – on camera. It’s fairly lazy writing, but it easily furthers the story and allows us to get back to those highly anticipated night time terrors.
I have no doubt that the fact that movie studios force a yearly schedule for sequels hurts the ability to have a great script. It isn't impossible, but it's difficult and leads to those shortcuts to push the story a bit.

The acting is better in the sequel and the characters are more "real." Which is a relief given how much I HATED the characters in the first movie while still liking the movie as a whole.

Final Score: 3/5

It's not a great movie but it's an entertaining watch that delivers on its promise. That's a lot more than can be said for plenty of other horror movies. A few more scares being delivered would bump this up to a 3.5 but this is still absolutely worth a watch.

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