Paranormal Activity 2 is a prequel and sequel to the wildly successful micro-budget haunted house film where nothing happens. There are people who love the lack of plot, character, and action in the original. Surely, they will be pleased with the sequel if they didn't already see it. This time around, Katie's sister Kristi is being haunted by the same demon. Her haunting just starts a month before Katie's. After their home is broken into and trashed (with nothing stolen except for a gift from Katie), Kristi and her husband Daniel have night vision cameras installed all over the house for protection. For 50 minutes of the movie, they capture such bizarre phenomenon as doors opening near drafts, a dog clawing at a door, and a pot falling off of a very loose and flexible pot rack. Then the series gets its one and only scary scene--not blink and you'll miss it jump scare, but scene--before everything shifts to shaky cam.
To be fair, Paranormal Activity 2 improves upon Paranormal Activity in every imaginable way. There are actual characters played by decent actors. The family even has a sympathetic figure (not counting the dog) so you have a reason to care about their alleged turmoil rarely shown onscreen. There are even wisps of a plot deeper than a logline.
Unfortunately, the film really has nothing new to offer. It's the same scares from the first film, just shot under a bright blue (rather than dull blue) filter and with more characters to target. And really, it's beyond kind to call a baby pointing at something behind his mama a scare.
The problem with the Paranormal Activity series is that it's horror for people who don't like horror movies. Someone who has never watched a real haunted house film might be taken in by the kind of gag Universal grew tired of in the 1930s. If your knowledge of the genre is slashers from the 80's or being dragged to a strange event horror like Saw or The Descent and you didn't like them, you're going to love these. They're horror films that drag you along promising real scares and then only get you to turn away from the screen one time at the very end. They're 90 minutes of people talking about being afraid without any actual danger of scaring an experienced viewer.
The banality of the approach would be insulting on its own. In the context of Paranormal Activity 2, it becomes an attack on the filmgoer's intelligence and expectations. You can't just toss out a quick reference to an exorcism or a haunted house as a metaphor for a broken family and then not address it again. Same with constantly switching through static shots of a house at night and pretending that the absence of any action at all is the same as actually putting together a horror movie.
The problem with the horror genre is not a lack of ideas. It is not the constant onslaught of remakes or even gore for gore's sake. The problem with horror is the lack of respect for the genre.
A film like Paranormal Activity 2 happens because someone sees dollar signs in the genre and has no interest in actually making a horror film. At least the original film put some effort into trying something new, even if the execution was dull. This sequel makes the original look lazier than it is by comparison.
What did you think of Paranormal Activity 2? I honestly have not been this bored by a horror since the dull as dishwater When a Stranger Calls remake. Share your thoughts below.