The success of the first Paranormal Activity & the many unanswered questions ensured that a sequel was inevitable. This time focusing on a different family, married couple Daniel and Kristi along with their young son, Hunter and Daniel’s teenage daughter from a previous relationship Ali.
The movie opens showing Daniel documenting the arrival of baby Hunter to the family home. The movie is found footage, like the first but with a bit more logic to it when things get seriously ghostly.
After a while the movie jumps a few years as Hunter is now a toddler. One night the family arrive home to find their house in total disarray. It looks like a burglary except nothing has been stolen. Daniel decides to fit the house with CCTV cameras in case whoever was involved comes back. This how we view most of the movies scenes, through these CCTV cameras. It’s a really good idea as it makes it a lot easier to watch at least until later in the movie when the handheld camera comes back out.
The movie spends a fair amount of time building characters & setting things up before the ghostly goings on begin. Like before it starts off small, the sort of things any sane person wouldn’t really even notice. The pool cleaner is out of the pool every morning, Hunter’s high chair falls over, a frying pan falls off its hook etc.
It’s actually starts to get a bit boring until the films major twist is dropped a short while in when Kristi & Daniel receive visitors, Katie & Micah. The sister that Katie spoke of in the first movie? That’s Kristi.
Paranormal Activity 2 is a prequel.
This was an awesome idea as it starts answering questions regarding some of the events of the first film. Unfortunately it also pretty much spoils it’s ending halfway through. As Ali & her boyfriend mess around with a Ouija board asking the spirit what it wants & it answers Hunter.
What makes this an improvement over the first film is the strain that the ghostly goings on puts on the family. It’s clear to see as Daniel & Kristi begin to argue daily & Ali’s attitude goes from excitement to fear. The demon is trying to weaken the family unit & it is working!
The acting is pretty decent & characters are believable although the boyfriend of Ali comes across a bit hammy during the Ouija board bit. Compared to Micah in the original these actors are a vast improvement (I cringed when he appeared on screen here).
Unfortunately it still takes some massive missteps, something that it would continue to do from this point onwards. Daniel’s dismissive behaviour regarding the possible haunting starts getting silly after a while. He watches footage of the pool cleaner being pulled out of the pool & his daughter being locked out of the house by a slamming door & he just laughs it off.
In fact with the latter he blames the wind even though the speed & force it closes shows it could never have been the wind. Sure, you could put this down too him wanting to not believe there is something in their home but that never comes across. Instead it’s only when he see Kristi being dragged down stairs by something unseen that he starts to believe.
That’s another thing…how infrequently they check the footage. In one scene the cooker burner starts by itself & sets fire to a pan making the house fill with smoke. Daniel blames Ali who was outside in the hot tub but had either of them watched the footage back they would have seen it happen by itself.
Later Kristi is in the kitchen when every drawer & cupboard just bursts open suddenly. She doesn’t mention it nor does she show the footage to her husband. They try to dress this up as she’s had enough & is thinking that if they don’t think or talk about it, it will go away (advice from Katie….how did that work out for her, eh?)
About three quarters in the movie really begins to drag & I guess the creators knew this so decides to just speed everything up. Kristi is dragged into the basement returning a few hours later in a catatonic state. Things remain this way for a day or two until Ali checks the footage & sees what happened. She shows Daniel who calls their old house keeper who suspected bad spirits were in the house before she was sacked for trying to protect the family. She comes and tells them that Kristi is possessed, something that can be undone with a cross dipped in some olive oil. They can transfer the demon to a living blood relative….a-ha, see where this is going?
Daniel decides to transfer it to Katie & we get some horrible looking demon faces, serious shaky camera as the handheld makes a reappearance & then it’s done! Kristi remembers nothing and the demon is gone. Happy ending, except we know it’s not.
The film jumps to shortly after Micah’s death as Daniel relaxes on the sofa. Who’s that standing in the background? A bloodied Katie. I’m not going to spoil the final few minutes for you, it’s fairly obvious what is about to happen.
It would be a shocking ending if it wasn’t so obvious, instead it just sets up even more sequels as you’re left wondering just what the demon wants with Hunter. Sure it answers a fair few that were left unanswered in the first but the movie goes to great lengths to tell you that this all started way back when the sisters were kids (guess what the third in the series is about?)
It has a rushed feel about it, everything happening so fast as if they knew they needed to end the film & where struggling to come up with something exciting.
An improvement over the first movie with a more interesting story, better characters and actors. The logic behind the use of found footage is well done up to a point but a poorly done possession sequence, disbelieving Dad when evidence is staring him in the face and a rushed ending means it’s hardly going to be considered a classic.
Paranormal Activity 2