A Pleasant Activity

By: Danny Sedlezak
There is very little to say about Paranormal Activity 2 that will change your opinion about it. You already know whether or not you want to see it. If you want to see it, I highly recommend you do, and if you don’t, I pity you. PA2 could easily be the best horror film of the year, if not the best movie of the year not called Inception. Some might say the original is better, but that’s a matter of personal preference. Yet PA2 is a good film in its own right, though not as endearing. PA2 will not be remembered as the landmark film its former was, but is a must watch for any fan of horror films.
    In modern times when ‘horror’ is synonymous with extreme amounts of gore, Pa2 feels very out of place. There are no teenagers being hacked to bits, and no actors in their late 20’s playing said teenagers. Calling it a horror movie doesn’t do it justice; it’s more of a suspense movie. Relying on atmosphere and the occasional jump scare, the movie actually scares you, instead of simply trying to make you queasy. Believe me, when those jump scares do happen, you’ll hit the ceiling like a rocket.
    The first Paranormal Activity was shot on a budget of $15,000. To put that into perspective, you can’t even buy a Honda civic for that much money. Where the average movie costs millions of dollars, this movie seems terribly out of place. Part Blair Witch Project part Poltergeist, the movie was critically and commercially successful. The low budget indie film had become a commercial blockbuster.
    So of course there was going to be a sequel, or should I say, prequel. Yes, PA2 takes place (mainly) before the first one (the exception being the last scene). No, you don’t need to see the original to enjoy this movie, but I would highly recommend it. Armed with a three million dollar budget, the special effects are noticeably better. Remember how in the last movie, you kind of felt like the same thing would happen in multiple scenes, and maybe got a little bored? Nothing of the sort happens here. It is suspenseful and surprising from beginning to end.
    It’s hard to do this movie right without divulging plot details, but it’s fair to say that the movie is gripping. It moves a little slow in the beginning, and a little too fast by the end. I personally wish the movie had been about 10 minutes longer, just to expand on certain plot elements that were slightly rushed in the end. If you complained about the pace of the first movie, you’ll have no problem here.
    The characters are not as good as the last movie. Yes, Micah was kind of a jerk. Yes, Katie was just a little bit too much of an airhead. But that’s what made them so likeable. You could see this happening to these people, and you felt along with them. PA2 panders to your sob emotions by having a dog and baby. Of course, those are the characters we are going to feel for the most, and that detracts from the liking of rest of the family. The father of the family (played by Brian Boland, best known for B-movies) takes a role similar to that of Micah in the last movie. Yet, once again, I found him to be the most likeable character. Maybe because he played the devil’s advocate for the audience, maybe because he was the only one with a sense of humor, I’m not sure.  The mother and step-daughter, while likeable, will not win an Oscar anytime soon.
    Paranormal Activity 2 will polarize you. Either you’ll love it for its intense atmosphere that takes you by the throat and doesn’t let go. You’ll love it for its ability to scare you even if you thought you couldn’t be. Or you’ll hate it for it’s slower pace and lack of gore. However, if you walk in with an open mind, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised (I know I was).
Overall: 4/5