Director – Tod Williams
Cast – Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim, Vivis
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity shocked the world with not only the fact it showed very little yet gave a lot in scare levels, but came as a very low-budget production and raked in massive profits, the ultimately “F*ck You!” to Hollywood given it was passed over for nearly two years. It came as no surprise to me when almost immediately after Paranormal Activity debuted that there was a sequel in the works, and when I found that it was neither going to be written nor directed by Oren Peli I had very VERY low expectations for the film. I expected a lame sequel looking to merely cash in on the previous film’s success…but boy was I wrong. No, not wrong about the film cashing in on the previous entry’s success…but wrong about the quality of this horror film. Much like Paranormal Activity, this flick will come off mainly as love/hate, and with some truly haunting scares I am forced to lean towards “love” with this one.
This “sequel” plays off both as a sequel and a prequel (a “companion“ film), taking place 60 days prior to the events that tormented Katie and Micah in Paranormal Activity. In this film we follow Katie’s sister, whom Katie shared paranormal experiences with as a young child(made known in PA), and her family as they set up numerous cameras throughout their home after experiencing what appeared to be a very nasty break-in by burglars who left their home in shambles. The family’s troubles around the home continue, but it is not a burglar they should be worried about. Strange and unexplainable events occur around the home, and as the incidences worsen in nature, so does the family’s chances of surviving the full onslaught brought on by one powerful demon.
Simply put, if you enjoyed Paranormal Activity then you should enjoy this one. We get a whole lot more of the same elements that went on in the first film, just with much more scares, including some that hit VERY hard in comparison to what we got in the original entry. Right off the back I will state that I cannot myself state that this film is superior to its predecessor, but I can say that it is just as good, although I still give Paranormal Activity much respect for getting the same amount “done” with a much smaller budget. If you did not like Paranormal Activity then I say there is a very strong chance that you may not enjoy this one, but hey, if you like great scares then this flick should be worth a shot.
Story-wise the film is quite simple, and feels much in the same vein as the original entry. As I mentioned earlier, this “sequel” also plays off as a prequel, which had me a bit confused at first given I was already thinking how this would play into the story of the first film, but in the end I found this to be a very positive idea thanks to TV writer Michael R. Perry tying both films together wonderfully, almost as if turning both flicks into one cohesive piece of paranormal terror. We have six main characters, including both Katie and Micah from the first film, as well as a young child named Hunter and a german shepherd named Abby. Why would I mention a young child and a dog? Well, because they both play key roles in the film, especially in the realm of the demon terrorizing the family. There is a heavy emphasis on Hunter in regards to the demon, in which we are at first kept in the dark until a never-confirmed revelation takes place that if true, would make this an even creepier watch. In my eyes, I say the revelation is true, therefore making my experience just that much more enjoyable. As far as the six speaking characters go we get an OK amount of conflict from them, which is the usual logic vs. emotion conflict we get with these types of films(much like in the 1982 demon-rape classic, The Entity). I really cannot say that these characters added much positives to the film aside from being the subject of the demon’s torment, but because of that I cannot say that they hurt the film as well. Simply put, their served their purpose, which was to scream and be haunted.
With such a simple storyline you can already assume that the highest selling point for this film is its direction, which comes very favorably from The Door In The Floor director Tod Williams. Tod Williams had never before directed a horror film, which amazes me given he gave us some fantastic elements of horror, including the greatest jump-scare scene I have EVER seen. I have never really been a fan of jump scares simply because I find them cheap and most of the time ill-used and annoying, however the ones in this film are simply unbeatable, and perfectly executed. I felt like Air Jordan during that scene, and I am quite sure that I will never feel that way again in a horror film, just because as of right now I cannot see that scene being topped as far as jump-scare scenes go. While most of the rest of the scares come in the form of loud banging and objects moving, we get some very hands on scenes involving the demon him/herself delivering the carnage to one of our characters, which occurred in the best scare that was not a complete jump-scare, but a prolonged scare that kept me in a good goose bump riddled state for a near 30 seconds. Once again, Tod Williams shows true talent in his execution of the scares in this film, which were by far the most amazing and surprising elements we are given in this sequel that should have been a failed effort from the beginning, but wasn’t.
As far as the conclusion goes, I have heard some negative banter about it even in most positive reviews I had read myself regarding this film, but I really do not find any major beef with it. It did come off a bit rushed, but it tied in very well with the original entry, and possibly put an end to this Paranormal saga, meaning this will not be the next Saw-esque multi-multi-sequel franchise. I will say though, that I would not mind being treated to more Paranormal-esque spinoffs in the future as long as they are executed as well as this film. Regardless of subject matter or originality, if you execute well, you are guaranteed a good watch, much like Paranormal Activity 2.
Overall, this is a fantastic sequel/prequel/”companion” film to one of last decades greatest horror films which provides numerous very well-executed scares thanks to a fantastic directing job, which comes complimented by its simple yet overall effective story. Fans of Paranormal Activity are sure to be very pleased with this watch, and while I would normally advise the Paranormal Activity haters to stay away from this very similar watch, I say give it a shot anyway.