Monday, 1 November 2010

Cinema Review: Paranormal Activity 2

Oren Peli's original at-home jumpfest terrified audiences last year, instantly greenlighting a sequel. With a new director on board, the question of whether it would shoot the inevitable franchise down before it's truly given life was on the tip of every horror fan's tongue.

After bringing their newborn baby Hunter home from the hospital, mother Kristi Rey (Sprague Grayden), her husband Dan (Brian Boland) and his daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) begin experiencing supernatural goings-on around their house, reigniting the peculiar fear she once had as a child.

Tactically, Tod Williams' highly anticipated sequel treads the same steps as the first. Initially setting up the characters and the overwhelming innocence surrounding them -- even more so this time with an actual family falling prey to this ominous presence -- then slowly, but surely, making their situation more aware to both us and them, with a dozen excruciatingly intense, chilling scenes along the way.

Almost a sister act to the first, Paranormal Activity 2 begins a whole six months before the explosive ending of the first, giving a hefty amount more backstory and heavy plot than the jump-a-second original. Setting up security cameras to capture any unusual happenings, the tension is racketed at a slower pace than the first, with the brilliant bedroom shot sadly missed. The tight-knit, claustrophobic aura of the bedroom suffocated, whereas now, with this enormous house used as the demon's playground, it feels a substantial amount weaker. The dozen night shots featuring the lonesome pool, darkened kitchen and empty hallway begin to teeter on the edge of being simply boring, with the repetitive clashing of pans and creaky floorboards used more than enough in the first. Still, saying that, you're guaranteed a jolt to the heart when something does occur.

As terror progresses and each family member is pushed to their boiling point culminating in an ending that will make or break the entire film for each individual, it doesn't quite beat Steven Spielberg's terrifying ending. Still, with his careful eye absent, the finale packs an unexpected punch.

The acting never feels quite as natural as the first and the scares aren't exactly as plentiful, but Williams' sequel beats the traditional 'shitty sequel' curse and is tense enough to throw any viewer that enjoyed the original on edge. The escalating terror evoked in the first isn't as malicious, but it's enough to undoubtably greenlight another sequel. This time, how about we limit the space and rid the house of all pots and pans? Deal.


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