Paranormal Activity 2

22 Jul

By josh

Let me start by just saying this: the first Paranormal Activity scared the living bejesus out of me! That being said, I was more than a little wary of checking out the first trailer for the sequel. I don’t normally watch scary movies – not because I’m afraid, but because they’re so stupid; the gory ones go for shock value, while the slow moving ones general opt for cheap “pop-up” scares. However, when a movie genuinely scares you, by building suspense and giving you the payoff in the final scenes, you generally tend to take that with you, and a movie succeeds by getting you to think about it well after you’ve seen it. Much like a tearjerker, the cheap ones are forgettable, but the truly emotional ones stick with you. Paranormal Activity stuck. Will the second one do the same? Here’s the first trailer:

In this follow up to the massively popular low budget chiller, it seems like they’re going back to the well. They start out by showing the ending of the first movie, to remind you of why you liked it so much, and then shows you a couple brief scenes of late-night chair rocking and pan clanging. A couple of new additions to “2” are the adding of a baby and a dog to the mix, where before it was just the husband and wife pair that had to “deal” with the demon. The dog barks, the baby stands up, and then we see an unknown woman standing still, in a trance, much like the first film. And that’s pretty much it.

Is this simply going to be a retread? They use the same night vision and security camera angles, and they use the same “wind-chime effect” where things just seem to slightly move by themselves. And the same, creepy “just standing” there possession pose. The big differences here are clear though – there’s a baby and a dog. After watching the clip, and seeing the “demon” in the form of a similar looking woman as the first one’s “Katie” character, we are left to wonder “is that the same girl?” Since we know (*SPOILER*) that the ghoul got away the first go around, we wonder, did Katie go to a new town and start a family? Is it the same character? Did the demon lie dormant and wipe her memory clean of the unpleasantness of the first one? Who knows? I was going into the clip expecting it to be a completely unrelated, but that might not be the case.

The big questions here, however, lie with that baby, and what role is he going to play. Whenever you bring kids to play in a horror movie, you’re setting a completely different tone. We worry about the welfare of that innocent little child (or get creeped out by their pure evil – see: The Omen), rather than being rather ambivalent about the death of a grown up. “Yeah, it sucks they got offed, but hey, they weren’t perfect.” Is the baby going to be the sought after prize for the demon? Or is he going to be in league with the beast, paving the way for a Paranormal 3? It’s clear the little tyke is going to play the central role in the film, but what role, we’ll have to wait and see. All I know is, I’ve got a feeling that dog’s days are numbered.

The biggest problem I have with Paranormal Activity 2 is that, yes, it is a sequel. Anytime you make a sequel to any movie,  be it action, comedy, whatever, you run into the problem of you already spent all your tricks on the first one, and how do you top that? With a drama, it’s easier to get away with – you just continue the story; The Godfather Part II held up because it was just a continuation of the last one (I will say that the politics in the movie dragged it down a bit, and I still don’t know what the whole Hyman Roth deal was all about). But scary movies, well, they might just be the hardest to pull off. Trying to one-up the last one tends to fall in that “cheap-thrills” territory, and once the first groan comes out, that’s it for the rest of the movie. On top of that, the first movie had a shoestring budget, and with the media blitz it got, everyone knew it. It was fun to watch and marvel at the ingenuity behind some of the effects, and guess at how they pulled it off without the help of a big-budget post production. However, here you just know the studio pumped a ton of money into the project, and camera shots even look a bit cleaner because of it. It loses a bit of the charm the first one had, and anything more than what they pulled off in the first one runs the risk of just screaming “fake”. If they can just hold off on over-indulging, they may be able to keep the vibe and seeming authenticity of the first one.

So will it suck?

Yes. Making a good sequel is hard enough as it is, but when you take something that had low budget charm and genuine thrills, going back to the well is almost impossible. These breakout indies are popular because they are original and creative with their limited resources. Plus, with so little at stake, the studio execs normally stay out of it. Pumping a bunch of money into a horror sequel that did so well the first time around on a shoestring budget is bound to fail – just look at Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.


2 Responses to “Paranormal Activity 2”


  1. In Theaters This Weekend: ‘Paranormal Activity 2′ spooks us, and Clint Eastwood is just plain scary « Will It Suck? - October 22, 2010

    […] without a Saw sequel, don’t worry about getting your fix, because Hollywood’s got you covered. Paranormal Activity 2 is hitting theaters this weekend, and yes, it’s clear they’re trying to squeeze blood from a […]


  2. Paranormal Activity 2 (Post Mortem) « Will It Suck? - October 26, 2010

    […] meet both box office and critical success? We had a feeling it was going to fall short. Here’s what we said back in July when the first trailer came […]


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