Paranormal Activity 2


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"We just can't let this affect us that much. If we do that, the terrorists win"

Oct 9th, 2011

When it comes to the original Paranormal Activity I tend to flip flop on whether I liked it or loved it. On my first viewing I found it passable but over repeated viewings it did grow on me. When it was announced that a sequel was being made in an attempt to turn this series into a franchise I was both intrigued and bemused. The story set up in the original indeed could do with some fleshing out and yet was perfect in its simplicity. Where could the story go? How could the tension be replicated? and What style would the new film take?

I couldn't be bothered to go to the cinema to watch this sequel so I tried to create a viewing experience that really created creepy atmosphere. I have a 5.1 speaker set up so I knew the loud bangs from the movie would sound perfect, I turned all the lights in the house out, cracked the window a little to let in the cold and made sure to switch the dvd on after midnight. I was ready.

To say I was a little disappointed with the direction they decided to take the series in is an understatement. Before I played the film I already knew this was going to be another found footage flick but after the first I expected for them to go with something a little different. I wanted them to go with an actual filmic experience like the sequel to Blair Witch project (without all the self-references and Meta universe confusion). Found footage usually works best when it seems like the actors are real people and the events really could have happened. While we as an audience know it's just a movie it makes it easier to suspend disbelief. The whole concept of a sequel kinda shatters this illusion which defeats the point of it being found footage.

With this in mind I didn't go in expecting realism or any affinity for the story. I watched this movie wanting to experience the jump scares (this franchise really isn't that frightening) but unfortunately this sequel couldn't even get that right.

I found the original ending to Paranormal Activity to be underwhelming destroying any goodwill the film managed to achieve (I much prefer one of the alternate endings found on the dvd). I won't spoil how it ended but to carry on from that point would head the franchise in a completely different direction (one I would have preferred).

Part 2 decides to focus on another family affected by the supernatural who just so happen to be related to Katie from the first. Taking place a couple of months prior to the originals tragic ending it allows this film to be prequel, sidequel and sequel all at the same time. After Kristi and Dan experience a brake in (which may not really be a brake in) they set up motion control camera throughout the house to protect themselves and their children (which includes new born Hunter). Much like the first we witness the strange goings on as the family sleep.

I have to say I really fail to see the point of this film other than a way for the movie studios to cash in on the success on the first. The story which is bashed out here really is sloppy and is even more bare bones than the original. Where the first can be given credit for being a low budget production it effectively created scares, there no excuse for this lazy attempt at film making.

The story is quite pedestrian with its rehashing of the exact same tale. The problem here is that the sequel is nothing more than a series of unconnected events. The first managed to build up intrigue and had many other aspects with the couple struggling to come to terms with the activity and their research into the phenomena. Here the characters constantly fail to acknowledge the supernatural and gloss over events for no other reason than to keep the characters within the house for the remaining run time of the flick. The most glaring omission is the device of having multiple cameras set up to record bizarre events only to the fail to check the tapes fully.

Another failing of the story is it lacking any sort of conclusion. The first movie was self-contained and while much was left to the audience's imagination it felt whole as a production. In an attempt to craft a franchise many throw away comments are made with no other purpose than to set up the next instalment. This is that failing of many a film nowadays where they are always focusing on where to go next rather than giving us a complete and satisfying feature.

As I stated earlier I didn't sit down to watch this based on the story (and yet was startled at how basic it was) but to experience the jump scares. Only this time I failed to be moved by any of the spooky sequences. In the original the fixed camera actually worked to build the tension while I would call it scary the film managed to unnerve you through anticipation. The sequel very rarely stays in one location for very long. Having multiple cameras means we continuously switch to locations around the house. Before any sense of dread can build adequately the camera will switch to another place. This means quite often we will watch a location where absolutely nothing happens. It's dull.

This being a fully financed studio sequel the budget was increased allowing for C.G.I effects. This also took away elements that made the original work. As I watched certain scenes I wondered how they achieved the effect. In the second I knew it was C.G.I, seeing wavy black smoke floating around the living room isn't scary.

As such with sequels things are made larger than in the original and yet fail to affect in the same way. The most effective moment is when we see the baby asleep in a crib being moved slightly. It's a creepy moment which is ruined as the scene continues. The baby is then levitated and lifted over and out of the cot. It's too much at once and brings attention to the computer effects. Disappointing.

I get the feeling that the film makers had no idea where to take this film and rushed it out to stay in competition with the Saw franchise. Rather than originality they just repeated moments from the first and stole ideas from the Rec franchise. While I'm able to see this as a bad sequel I think the way I saw it also affected my enjoyment of it.

Paranormal Activity is defiantly a group experience. While it never scared me I enjoyed watching the audience squirm and shriek. If I ever watch another of these films I will make sure to watch it in the cinema as otherwise it's kind of pointless. Even with all the preparations I made it's not the same as in the cinema. I will watch part 3 not based on my interest of the series but more as an experiment to see if the experience really affects this film. With this in mind I didn't go in expecting realism or any affinity for the story. I watched this movie wanting to experience the jump scares (this franchise really isn't that frightening) but unfortunately this sequel couldn't even get that right.

I found the original ending to Paranormal Activity to be underwhelming destroying any goodwill the film managed to achieve (I much prefer one of the alternate endings found on the dvd). I won't spoil how it ended but to carry on from that point would head the franchise in a completely different direction (one I would have preferred).

Part 2 decides to focus on another family affected by the supernatural who just so happen to be related to Katie from the first. Taking place a couple of months prior to the originals tragic ending it allows this film to be prequel, sidequel and sequel all at the same time. After Kristi and Dan experience a brake in (which may not really be a brake in) they set up motion control camera throughout the house to protect themselves and their children (which includes new born Hunter). Much like the first we witness the strange goings on as the family sleep.

I have to say I really fail to see the point of this film other than a way for the movie studios to cash in on the success on the first. The story which is bashed out here really is sloppy and is even more bare bones than the original. Where the first can be given credit for being a low budget production it effectively created scares, there no excuse for this lazy attempt at film making.

The story is quite pedestrian with its rehashing of the exact same tale. The problem here is that the sequel is nothing more than a series of unconnected events. The first managed to build up intrigue and had many other aspects with the couple struggling to come to terms with the activity and their research into the phenomena. Here the characters constantly fail to acknowledge the supernatural and gloss over events for no other reason than to keep the characters within the house for the remaining run time of the flick. The most glaring omission is the device of having multiple cameras set up to record bizarre events only to the fail to check the tapes fully.

Another failing of the story is it lacking any sort of conclusion. The first movie was self-contained and while much was left to the audience's imagination it felt whole as a production. In an attempt to craft a franchise many throw away comments are made with no other purpose than to set up the next instalment. This is that failing of many a film nowadays where they are always focusing on where to go next rather than giving us a complete and satisfying feature.

As I stated earlier I didn't sit down to watch this based on the story (and yet was startled at how basic it was) but to experience the jump scares. Only this time I failed to be moved by any of the spooky sequences. In the original the fixed camera actually worked to build the tension while I would call it scary the film managed to unnerve you through anticipation. The sequel very rarely stays in one location for very long. Having multiple cameras means we continuously switch to locations around the house. Before any sense of dread can build adequately the camera will switch to another place. This means quite often we will watch a location where absolutely nothing happens. It's dull.

This being a fully financed studio sequel the budget was increased allowing for C.G.I effects. This also took away elements that made the original work. As I watched certain scenes I wondered how they achieved the effect. In the second I knew it was C.G.I, seeing wavy black smoke floating around the living room isn't scary.

As such with sequels things are made larger than in the original and yet fail to affect in the same way. The most effective moment is when we see the baby asleep in a crib being moved slightly. It's a creepy moment which is ruined as the scene continues. The baby is then levitated and lifted over and out of the cot. It's too much at once and brings attention to the computer effects. Disappointing.

I get the feeling that the film makers had no idea where to take this film and rushed it out to stay in competition with the Saw franchise. Rather than originality they just repeated moments from the first and stole ideas from the Rec franchise. While I'm able to see this as a bad sequel I think the way I saw it also affected my enjoyment of it.

Paranormal Activity is defiantly a group experience. While it never scared me I enjoyed watching the audience squirm and shriek. If I ever watch another of these films I will make sure to watch it in the cinema as otherwise it's kind of pointless. Even with all the preparations I made it's not the same as in the cinema. I will watch part 3 not based on my interest of the series but more as an experiment to see if the experience really affects this film.


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