Paranormal Activity 2

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 If you go to “Paranormal Activity 2” with modest expectations, as I did, you’ll have a good, scary time, despite the fact that the last reel is disappointing, compared to the events that precede it.
 
It’s often tough for a sequel of a horror flick to match the original, particularly in the case of the no-budget (reportedly a scant $15,000), low-tech “Paranormal Activity,” which came out of nowhere in 2009.  "Paranormal Activity" went on to become a sleeper and even a cultural phenomenon, not least because it was distributed by a major studio, Paramount.
 
Injecting a breath of fresh air and scare, "Paranormal Activity" showed that there was still juice in the overused horror genre, much like “The Blair Witch Project,” which came out exactly a decade earlier in 1999. However, unlike “Blair Witch Project,” which generated much of its suspense from its visual style, primarily the use of restless and shaky camera, “Paranormal Activity” was based on a different narrative and form, generating scares from a stationary home security camera with a time-code on the image.
 
This film's screenplay, penned by Michael R. Perry, Christopher Landon and Tom Pabst, is slender and rudimentary. However, by my estimate, there are at least five or six truly spooky and scary moments (the two women next to me actually scream), which will jolt you out of your seats and thus justify the price of admission.
 
The second installment (and I think there will be more, if this one does well at the box office) doesn’t try to change or reinvent the format and basic conventions of the first one. And though it is not the case of more of the same, in many ways, “Paranormal Activity 2” exploits the same ideas, while adding some new elements by way of characters and victims.
 
The first film, you may recall, centered on Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat), a young couple whose house is suddenly beset by bizarre incidents, which defy logical or rational explanation. These two characters also appear in the new film, but the focus shifts to the strange supernatural incidents that occur to Katie's sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden), her husband Daniel (Brian Boland), their teenage daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim), their baby Hunter, their nanny Martine (Vivis), and, perhaps the film’s most alert character, Abby the family's German shepherd dog.
 
"Paranormal Activity 2" may become famous for a very shrewd use of two “innocent” protagonists, or rather bystanders, a helpless, pre-verbal baby and a smart and alert watchdog, both of whom witness crucial and creepy events that take place within the house but of course can’t verbalize or report them.
 
It’s hard to tell why this project was assigned to Tod Williams, a director who had previously made such indie melodramas as “The Adventures of Sebastian Cole,” his feature debut, which premiered at Sundance in the dramatic competition series, and “The Door in the Floor,” starring Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger, which Focus Features released. Neither film was particularly impressive and, more importantly, neither suggested that he could do a horror film efficiently, as he does here.
 
Credit for the relative success of “Paranormal Activity 2” as a decent and effective genre item should go to the conception behind the original picture: A mundane setting of normal suburbia, haunted by unseen terrors with profoundly unsettling Occurrences on the residents of a single house.
 
It’s worth noting that some of the dead-silent moments are just as eerie and frightening as those accompanied by dialogue and sound. Among other things, after “Paranormal Activity 2,” you may never look at an open closet or cabinet door the same way again.