Paranormal Activity 2 – review
Turned around in extra-quick time, the sequel to last year’s surprise hit is a rare example of a film that benefits from a rapid follow-up. We’ve not heard an audience reaction like it for quite some time; this is a horror that works.
Although it was made in 2007, ‘Paranormal Activity’ only hit the big screen in the UK last year, and then it was only thanks to a lengthy Internet campaign to get it released. There are no such problems with this effort, but the lofty heights achieved first time around will be tough to beat.
We begin with a young family bringing home its latest member: baby Hunter, who joins mum Kristi (Sprague Grayden), dad Daniel (Brian Boland) and teen stepsister Ali (Molly Ephraim). Inevitably the doting parents want to capture every moment on film, so the video cameras are out to document the first few months of bliss.
It’s not all post-natal paradise though, as a strange break-in forces the family to install a number of security cameras. Things seem to return to normal, but as Kristi begins to depend more on her sister Katie (Katie Featherston) things seriously begin to spiral out of control.
Oren Peli struck gold with ‘Paranormal Activity’, as a legion of celebrities backed the film’s battle to get a general release. This time he opts to hand over directing duties to Tod Williams but is still on board as producer. It’s a wise move to have him involved in some capacity as the continuity he provides is one of the best things about this well-made chiller.
Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat return in this film, so it’s clear early on that this is a prequel, there are also a series of very obvious onscreen credits confirming as much. In essence this acts as a countdown, heightening the tension as we begin to anticipate the horrors set to befall this unfortunate family.
The CCTV footage and handheld cameras return, and whilst it manages to work for the duration of this film, it’s just about all we can handle of this particular horror set-up. ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ also has the slow build-up of the first film, so long periods can pass without anything major happening on screen. It’s a technique that relies on excellent performances to work, and those are exactly what we get from the actors.
The new element is that of a child in peril, something which will terrify almost every viewer. It’s wonderfully handled as you never know which family member will be safe and when the child himself will become the focus of the unseen danger. There are a couple of exceptional scenes to this effect and you are pushed to the point where you fear for everyone onscreen, and even those off it.
The plot itself is one of the ultimate successes of this story, though it’s best that we refrain from revealing too much. In fact it would be wise to catch this before you find out any particular details about what happens, as we saw just how shocked our unwary audience was.