The first Paranormal Activity featured no A-list stars and cost a mere $15,000 to produce. Through the most ingenious viral marketing campaign in history though, the film managed to eventually attain a wide release and gross just under $200 million. Many were unable to sleep with the lights off after witnessing Paranormal Activity, hailing it as one of the scariest movies of all time. But, of course, as it grew in popularity, Paranormal Activity received an inevitable backlash from those who felt it did not live up to the hype.
Personally, I found Paranormal Activity to be a genuinely creepy thriller that made me jump out of my seat on multiple occasions. I might not have slept with the lights on for a week. But the movie certainly stuck with me for a while. When I heard a sequel was in the works I couldn't help but groan in dissatisfaction. All I could think of was how Hollywood will take anything even remotely original and beat it like a dead horse.
The twist is that Paranormal Activity 2 is actually good. As a matter of fact, the film is more than just good. Paranormal Activity 2 is an equal to its predecessor. Finding a horror movie in modern cinema that is not a remake or sequel is one thing. But to see a sequel that actually improves on the original is truly special.
Since the filmmakers were gracious enough not to spoil too much in the coming attractions trailer, I'll do my best not to give away anything major either. In the film's commencement a mother and father bring home their newborn son named Hunter. The only others living in the house are the man's teenage daughter from another marriage and the family dog. When somebody breaks into the house they install a series of security cameras. Shortly after that the family starts to notice some irregular activity throughout their humble abode.
Much of what made the first Paranormal Activity so effective is present here, too. The film slowly builds tension in the first act, leaving you paralyzed with anticipation of what will happen next. Then when the shocks do come you're not left disappointed. Oren Peli remains a producer and screenwriter but hands the director's chair over to Tod Williams. Williams stays true to the tone of the original film, deriving terror from the unseen and possibility of an attack. There's also some uniformly excellent work from the entire cast and the sheer joy of the audience's laughter, gasps and screams.
If you weren't a fan of Paranormal Activity this sequel will not convert you. The same can be said about Jackass 3D. For the large following Paranormal Activity has developed though, this sequel completely delivers. Where most horror sequels retell the same story over again, Paranormal Activity 2 only makes me appreciate the first film even more. It may not be as fresh as its predecessor. But then again, how could it be? Especially when the competition this Halloween includes I Spit on Your Grave and the "final" Saw installment, Paranormal Activity 2 makes for an ideal date movie.
I walked into Paranormal Activity 2 reluctantly thinking to myself, "Do we really need another one of these?" Walking out of the movie though, I cannot wait for Paranormal Activity 3. I can't remember the last time I actually looked forward to a horror sequel.