The odds of a sequel being better than an original are what, about the same as the odds of Uwe Boll making a compelling Oscar-worthy film. In other words, almost zero. It does happen from time-to-time, a movie exceeds the original, and Paranormal Activity 2 is such a film. It’s boosted in every conceivable manner – the script, the scares, the acting and the filmmaking.
Paranormal Activity and most “found footage” films are polarizing within the horror community. There is significant love thrown around as well as significant hate. And that won’t change with this latest foray into the genre. It’s what horror fans do the best – argue about the merits of films. And while I am sure disagreements will abound; I have no qualms proclaiming this was one of the most terrifying experiences I have had in a theater.
Director Tod Williams expertly and carefully guides the budding franchise to a level of tension and dread that is, simply put, scary as hell. Armed with a real budget and a ton of studio backing (tends to happen when an original film makes a $100 mill), the film had a lot of opportunity for silly FX and slicked up Hollywood-style storytelling. Thankfully, Williams stuck to what made the first film so successful (Lesson learned, thank you very much Blair Witch 2): brooding, creeping, slow-burning terror. Paranormal 2 transports its viewers right back to an all too familiar place. A place that is very uncomfortable and very unnerving. Though, this time around, there are no safe moments. Anything can and does happen at ANY TIME. Day or night. The demon isn’t a big fan of letting people relax, even for a moment.
The script ties in beautifully with the original and actually serves to strengthen the first PA. Back-stories are filled-in and disturbing revelations come forth. On top of that, adding the baby and dog factors does wonders for messing with psyches. What’s scarier than the thought of demon screwing with your beloved pet or infant child? And while the script is more coherent, so is the filmmaking. This is one of the few “found footage” movies (Lake Mungo being another good example) that won’t induce motion sickness, at least it shouldn’t. For me, this makes the viewing experience immensely more enjoyable.
As much as Paranormal Activity 2 is for fans of the first film; I believe there is a chance that individuals that hated on PA will like the sequel. I may be delusional, but I come bearing at least one instance of a turnaround. An hour after seeing Paranormal Activity 2 my roommate said he was still shaking, his arm hairs on full alert. He had already conceded sleeping for the night. The original did nothing for him. Of course, he’s just one example, but it’s safe to say A LOT of people are going to lose sleep over this film.
Snore Factor: Z (Good luck trying to sleep)