October 22, 2010
Michael R. Perry and Christopher B. Landon
Spraque Grayden as: Kristi
Brian Boland as: Dan
Katie Featherston as: Katie
Micah Sloat as: Micah
Molly Ephraim as: Ali
Tim Clemens as: Hunter
As Paranormal Activity 2 opens, Katie’s younger sister Kristi brings newborn son Hunter home from the hospital and through various video clips taken over the following months, we’re introduced to Kristi’s husband Dan, stepdaughter Ali, housekeeper/nanny Martine, and Abby the dog. Kristi being the predominant character in the film as her sister Katie was in the original, it’s disappointing that her performance and likability don’t stack up. But be patient, Katie will be back.
The entire family is shocked one day when the house is ransacked, seemingly by a burglar (a lame one that leaves expensive electronics and fine jewelry behind), and Dan doesn’t waste any time installing security cameras throughout the house. We know what that means…
Almost immediately, the family starts to see and hear strange things. Martine, believing there are evil forces at work, attempts to’ cleanse’ the house by burning some incense, an act that for some reason drives Dan to send her packing. A little extreme, yes, but we know from the original Paranormal Activity that men are slow to believe their loved ones when it comes to the supernatural and prefer instead to egg the demons on. Eventually though, they come around.
Just as in the original Paranormal Activity, evil spirits love the camera and become more and more aggressive when they know they’re being filmed. After bringing out the Ouija Board and doing some internet research on demons, Ali finds the spirit hamming it up on camera for her family in particular is actually after…her baby brother, Hunter.
The addition of an innocent baby and dog in this prequel make it 1. more chilling and 2. more aggravating. Yes, we’re all on our toes as Hunter levitates in his sleep up and out of his crib. But at the same time scenes where he’s suddenly moved to screams at the sound of a loud noise are almost too unnerving to watch. A one-year old is not acting. Exploiting a baby for shock effect is indefensible.
So the exorcising nanny is gone. The violence escalates. Dan remains skeptical until the family dog is knocked unconscious and pulled violently off camera. When he finally admits to himself that ‘hey, maybe something’s up,’ and he and Ali head to the vet, Kristi is left alone in the house to ‘protect’ young Hunter.
At this point in the film, we’re confused if not insulted wondering how this prequel is supposedly occurring just months before the events of the original Paranormal Activity took place. Did Kristi simply ‘forget’ to share what’s been happening with her older sister and best friend Katie, who ends up possessed and murdering her boyfriend in the original/sequel? Fortunately, Paranormal Activity 2redeems itself and ties the films together, albeit in an absurd, outlandish, demons-will-do-whatever-you-want-them-to way.
If you can get past the loose logic, dry performances, exploitation of small children and the ever present ‘why don’t they call for help or leave the house?’ question, Paranormal Activity 2 is a relatively frightening film. In fact, the jolts are greater than in the first and the ending more horrific. Some filmgoers will be happy with that, but true horror aficionados will expect more.