The found-footage genre is not for everyone, but for some reason it works for me like gangbusters. I saw Blair Witch before all the hype, so it scared the crap out of me and the original Paranormal Activity had me spellbound for most of its running time until the dodgy CGI-enhanced ending. The Internet tells me that people are sick of the found-footage genre because it's boring and nothing ever happens except at the end so this review comes with a caveat - if you hated Blair Witch or the original Paranormal Activity, then don't bother with this sequel because it doesn't break any new ground, but at the same time, it actually enriches the original and gives it an interesting mythology.
Paranormal Activity 2 takes place two months before poor Micah and Katie had their run-in with a cruel and mischievous invisible demon in part one. This time it's Katie's sister, Kristi, and her family who face off with the nameless beast. These characters are much more likable than Katie and Micah in the first one, but that's not saying much. Katie screamed and cried the whole movie and Micah was all alpha- male bluster and douche baggy throughout. The intensity in this movie is mostly surrounding the demon screwing with a toddler and a dog. I can watch gore all day long, but when violence is aimed at an animal, I can't look at the screen. And some toddlers are cute, so we don't want them to get hurt either.
P.A. 2 toys with sequel conventions by filling in some blanks left by the first one in unexpected ways. It provides a reason that the creature is toying with these people in the first place and changes how you'll view the original. It actually makes the original a better movie while keeping itself slightly below par. The problem is that there's not much of a payoff for all the tension building. There are some jaw-dropping moments of horror in this, but they come quickly and as an afterthought to the moments of stillness and silence that permeate the film. Shots remain static for so long you find yourself looking around the frame trying to spot the evil. These films are like the "Where's Waldo" of horror franchises, but instead of looking for a Harry Potter look-a-like in a striped beanie, you're keeping an eye out for demons in the basement.
Starring Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland, Molly Ephriam, Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat
Directed By Tod Williams