johnlink ranks PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010)

Continuing on with the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films, here we have the second entry. From here on out, I have not seen any of them (hopefully I will get to number four in theaters soon after its release). Could this movie possibly live up to the first? The history of the horror genre says that the odds are not good.

I watched PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010) on 10.9.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

This film copies everything about the first, and that is both its strength and weakness. On the plus side, the formula works. The rising tension does result in an intense last sequence. We are even privy to a final scene which serves as a surprise while also filling the long horror genre tradition of leaving us hanging.

On the negative, this film does not play the found-footage game as well as the first did. The set-ups in the still camera bits are less aesthetically pleasing. I praised the first film for giving us that iconic setup in the bedroom which makes it hard to focus on one thing. Well, the second film gives us a long shot over a living room and dining room as one of its major set-ups. This shot proves too hard to focus on. And while this does not make for a bad movie, it is an example of how the film doesn’t quite hit the marks of the first.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 is a prequel to the first. As such, Micah (Sloat) and Katie (Featherston) are back, though the major subjects are Katie’s sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden), her husband Daniel (Brian Boland), his daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim), and their brand new son Hunter. The house is apparently broken into early on, though the audience knows it is the titular activity which ransacked the home. That leads to the installation of surveillance cameras, which allows access to be voyeurs in this home. It does feel less personal than the first movie, if only because the nature of surveillance cameras means we forget we are being watched. In the first film the camera is usually a third character in the room, in this second film that is only the case half the time.

The characters in the film are, similarly, less accessible. Perhaps the nature of the camerawork leads to some of that distance, though it is certainly also just in creation of character. The father doesn’t want to hear about ghosts, and so he just comes across as an obtuse moron. However, we are also later asked to really use him as our entry into the film, he becomes our heroic point-of-view.  It’s all a little disjointed. The film doesn’t utilize the perspective of the daughter enough, and is most successful in creating tension when it does.

While the scares are there at times, and this is certainly not a weak horror movie, here is plenty of potential left on the table. Watching this a day after the first one, it was pretty clear that the series is in danger of being overtaken by the formula, and I’m very curious to see if the third film is able to transcend the structure and trump it with plain-old good story telling.





~ by johnlink00 on October 11, 2012.

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