Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

December 14, 2010 in Movie Reviews by pacejmiller

I think I’ve found my “worst film of 2010″.

This was unexpected for me, as I am a lover of horror films, especially supernatural ones.  I also like the idea of the “found footage” film, like The Blair Witch Project and I particularly liked The Last Exorcism this year.  I found the original Paranormal Activity to be less than inspiring — there were some good bits, but for the most part, the film was tedious and boring to me.  Too many pointless time-fillers between scares and the slow pace were not enough to make up for the spooky climax and horrific ending.

However, according to some accounts, Paranormal Activity 2 is better than the original.  With more experience, a proper script and a bigger budget, I was expecting an upgrade.

Talk about a letdown.  Paranormal Activity 2 is a prequel that basically recycles the idea of the first film — and throws crap all over it.  For those who haven’t seen the original, I won’t reveal too much, but essentially it’s about a haunting of a suburban house that escalates over time.  Last time it was a couple; this time it’s a family of four, plus a dog.

Like the original, nothing happens for most of the film, with a few extremely minor incidents trying to pass off as scares.  Even worse than the original is the fact that nothing notable happens until the final 15 minutes.  For the rest of the 91-minute running time, I was just waiting and waiting, hoping for something — anything.  It was like watching a very long episode of America’s boringest home videos.

The premise of the film made little sense to me.  In the first one, the couple decided to film everything because they thought the house may have been haunted.  In the sequel, the family decides to install surveillance cameras in just about every room of the house — and that’s where we get most of the footage — because of a burglary.  I’m sorry, but don’t people install security alarms to prevent burglars?  What is the point of putting on surveillance cameras all around the house — so you can see what has been stolen?  And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never seen home surveillance cameras that can also capture crystal clear sound.

More annoying is the hand held camera footage.  Sure, families sometimes like to film stuff, especially when there is a baby — but why would anyone film things like: having an emotional conversation with a sibling, having a casual phone conversation with a friend, or when doing research on a computer?  I understand we need to learn things in order for the plot to progress, but when the footage frequently stretches the credibility of the film, that’s a big problem.

Speaking of credibility, the performances were less than convincing.  When the best actor in the entire film is the family’s dog, you know you’re in trouble.  And I won’t even start with the stereotypical Latino maid that happens to know everything about demons, including exactly how to get rid of them.

In my opinion, the reason the first film was so successful was not just because it was a clever idea — it was because a lot of people wondered whether the footage was actually real, or at least thought it felt real, which made everything in it much scarier than it really was.  Obviously, with the exception of a few, most people know that Paranormal Activity 2 is totally made up, which is okay, as long as they upped the scares.  But if anything, Paranormal Activity 2 was less scary than the original.

The scariest thing about the whole thing?  Paramount Pictures have announced that they are releasing another one next year.

1 star out of 5 (For being able to tie in the original film.  And the dog.)