BLU-RAY REVIEW: Paranormal Activity 2
The unseen demons return in this sequel to 2007's most original scary film...
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I have to be honest, I wasn't that impressed with 2007's Paranormal Activity. Maybe it was all the hype or all of the quotes from the big reviewers like "scariest movie ever" and "best horror film of the decade." Whatever it was, when I went into the theater I was ready to experience something horrifying and shocking; when I left the theater, I was left unfulfilled and slightly depressed. Really? That was it?
That said, I'm not a negative person. Thanks to a unique story and extremely inventive way of shooting, Paranormal Activity was one of the most original films I'd seen. However, it was no more impressive than 1999's The Blair Witch Project, 2001's The Devil's Backbone or even 2007's Inside. And when I heard they were making a sequel, I was admittedly concerned. So, when Paranormal Activity 2 came out, I kept my expectations low. And guess what? Not only did I love what I saw, but I was often at the edge of my seat, looking through clinched fists anticipating the worst my imagination could conjure up.
I'm admittedly a jumpy person when watching any movie with sudden, unexpected sounds (having bombs and mortars dropped on you in Iraq for 4 months will do that). That said, I found myself constantly checking over my shoulder and out the window while watching Paranormal Activity 2, ensuring I was truly alone. Unlike the first film, which felt tame in comparison, Paranormal Activity 2 raises the stakes and forces fright fans to experience everything which (supposedly) made the original so great, all while injecting more scares, sounds, and moments of untamed imagination.
Unlike some sequels, which forget about their target audience, Paranormal Activity 2 actually hones in on both the original targeted demographic (young adults) and expands its draw to include teens and young parents by creating new roles to attract both teens and young couples in the form of Kristi and Dan Rey, the young mother and widowed father, and Dan's teenage daughter, Ali. Add to this Hunter, Kristi and Dan's baby son, and the religious housekeeper Martine and you have yourself an entire family who all begin to experience unexplained phenomenon in their southern California home. This alone helps the film's mass appeal and I can't tell you how many times I, as a parent myself of a young toddler, caught myself thinking "You'd better not do anything to that baby!!"
While some have said Paranormal Activity 2 is little more than a few brief scares and loud noises, I'd disagree. As most of us know, it's not truly what we see or hear which scares us, but what we don't see or hear and what, instead, our mind creates in the absents of information which truly frighten us. So too is it with Paranormal Activity 2. Loaded with plenty of moments which leave one wanting to know more, it's truly up to the individual viewer to fill in those information voids and thus, create the frightening (or not) moments.
This Paranormal Activity 2 disc set includes DVD, Blu-ray, and digital versions of the film. The video is decent at best, as it's intended to be. Shot with what seems to be a hand-held camera as well as a multitude of security cameras strategically placed throughout the Rey's home, the video may leave some viewers wanting more. Of course, when a film is intentionally filmed in a method such as this, it's hard to fault the quality. The sound too may leave some viewers wanting as it too seems derived from a hand-held camera. Again, it's hard to fault the film when it's intentionally made this way; however a bit more background audio or intentional amplification of sound effects could have added to the mood and created an ambiance which sometimes seems lacking.
As for special features, the film includes only a theatrical trailer and a short montage of "Found Footage" (deleted scenes) which explore additional scenes cut from the final film.
While it might fail to impress fright fans looking for blood and gore, Paranormal Activity 2 seemed a major improvement over its predecessor and does an excellent job of expanding its audience. While the originality of the first film isn't all present, Paranormal Activity 2 more than makes up for this by relying heavily on the viewer's imagination and what's unseen and unheard to truly inspire the scares. If you enjoyed the first film, you won't want to miss Paranormal Activity 2. Likewise, if you were like me and didn't like the original, but you enjoy a solid fright film with some interesting characters, I'd recommend giving Paranormal Activity 2 a try.
Paranormal Activity 2 is rated R for some language and brief violent material and is available now on blu-ray and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley