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Paranormal Activity 2

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) – Rated R for some language and brief violent material.

When Paranormal Activity came out last year it immediately drew comparisons to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project.  They’re both low-budget horror films that fall into the more specific “found footage” sub-genre and they both made a ton of money so it was pretty easy to understand why.  When it became one of the most profitable films ever made based on return of investment, a sequel was naturally announced.  Here’s where comparisons to The Blair Witch Project aren’t good.  The sequel to TBWP was a complete mess.  Where Blair Witch had originality and genuine scares, Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 fell flat and was a befuddled bomb.  Thankfully, however, Paranormal Activity 2 is not a mess and it is just as creepy as the first film.

This film begins about three months before the events in Paranormal Activity happened.  Katie and Micah, the main characters in the first film, make a few appearances in this film because this one focuses on Katie’s sister and her family.  As a policy I try to not include any spoilers in my reviews so I won’t go into too much detail but I will say that the story ties in nicely with the first film.  You won’t be terribly confused if you haven’t seen the first film, but you’ll definitely understand this film more if you have seen the first.  As with the first film, it starts off kind of slow.  The security cameras catch some stuff that the family isn’t aware of because they are all sleeping, but when they do finally notice that’s when the story picks up.  A lot of the scares come from things that you’ll notice in the corner of the screen or away from the central character so you’ve really got to keep an eye out for stuff you might be missing out on.  The filmmakers do a nice job of kind of warning you that something creepy is about to happen because you’ll hear the cue.  That deep, low sound of something evil lurking in the corner perhaps?  Either way, when you hear that sound, keep your eyes peeled because something is about to jump out at you.

I think a big part of what made the first film so successful, aside from the genius marketing, was the simplicity of the film.  For a while it seemed that in order to get a horror film produced in Hollywood it had to have tons of gore and even more nudity.  A perfect example of this was the new “torture porn” sub-genre of the splatter film genre.  After a while people grew tired of these over-the-top gore fests so when this tiny film with only a hand-held camera and a minuscule budget came out, we were literally caught by surprise.  It proved that a horror film can be successful without gallons of blood, elaborate kills, and as much nudity as a porn film.  And I truly believe that this film also proves that a sequel (or prequel?) to a horror film can be as good as the first.  Filmtastic review = 4 stars.

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