Paranormal Activity 2 is both a prequel and a sequel to the first film, Paranormal Activity. Paranormal Activity followed Katie Featherston and her boyfriend Micah Sloat. For some unknown reason, a demon was terrorizing the couple. By the end of the film (October 8, 2006), Katie was possessed by the demon. She kills Micah and then mysteriously disappears. When Paranormal Activity first came out, I had no interest in seeing it. My friends talked about the film, and said it was ‘jumpy’ especially the scene when Katie is pulled out of bed. However, I always thought the film was about aliens, not demons! Flash-forward to late October 2010; I decided to watch a marathon of horror films to celebrate the Halloween holiday. Paranormal Activity was on the list of must-see films, partly because I wanted to be able to say that I had seen it! It was simple, realistic, but left me wanting more.
Two weeks later, Paranormal Activity 2 was released into theaters on Halloween. I am going to keep this review spoiler-free. I want you (our readers) to experience Paranormal Activity 2 spoiler-free, because if you know what is coming, the film will be less interesting. This horror film is not like the majority of others released on DVD in recent years. There are no trails of blood, decapitated heads on spikes, or people sewn together to make a human centipede. Paranormal Activity 2 relies on its shock value to get people into the theaters and to buy the DVD. Believe me when I say, Paranormal Activity 2 has more than enough shock value to satisfy anyone looking for an adrenaline rush.
Paranormal Activity 2 begins about a year and a half before Paranormal Activity. In this film, the story chronicles Katie’s sister Kristi Rey (Sprague Grayden), her husband Daniel Rey (Brian Boland), her stepdaughter Ali Rey (Molly Ephraim), and their infant son Hunter Rey. Their family is wealthy; Daniel owns a few Burger Kings in California. They live in a large, expensive home with a pool and a hot tub. Paranormal Activity 2 begins with Kristi and Daniel returning home with their newborn son Hunter. The family chronicles the event with a personal handheld camera similar to the camera Micah used in the first film. A year later, their home is terrorized. Every room is tossed, as if a tornado whipped through it, except for young Hunter’s room. Daniel and Kristi decide to install security cameras throughout the home in case the intruders who vandalized their home return. The cameras are placed above the main entrance looking out to the front yard, above the main entrance from inside the home looking at the door and stairwell, outside above the pool, inside Hunter’s room, above the kitchen looking towards the family room, and above the family room looking towards the kitchen and door to the basement.
Strange things begin to happen inside the house on the evening of August 7, 2006. Martine, the family’s Mexican nanny, and Abby, the family’s German Shepherd, are the first ones to notice the change. Weird sounds emanate from the basement, lights flicker, and birds crash into windows. Martine tries to bless the home to ward away evil spirits, but Daniel does not believe in her superstitions. Abby tries to protect Hunter, by sleeping in his room every night.
Initially, Ali believes ghosts haunt their home. Kristi and Katie reveal their childhood traumas related to supernatural events. Ali discovers the truth after some online research and believes demons haunt their home instead of ghosts. She learns that when a human makes a bargain with a demon for wealth, power, or any other benefit, they must forfeit their first-born male. If the debt is not honored, the demon will follow the defaulter and his or her brood until its soul of an infant is collected. She wonders if Kristi and Katie’s great-grandmother made a deal with a demon for wealth. Tracing the lineage, Hunter is the only male related by blood in their family. It has been about ten days since the haunting began. This is the point in Paranormal Activity 2 when things get freaky! This is also the point where I am going to stop writing, or else I will give away all the spoilers.
Paranormal Activity 2 is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 25-30 mbps. The first thing you have to understand here, just like the first film is that the footage is intended to be the “found” variety taken from security cameras and camcorders. It absolutely has the amateur look you are expecting. That doesn’t mean that this high-definition image presentation is bad. It just does exactly what it sets out to do. The quality itself varies depending on the intended source. Still there is solid detail. Black levels are above average. This may be home footage, but at least it’s very good home footage.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 might very well have overstepped a bit here. It’s not very likely that these security cameras have anything but rudimentary sound. Somehow we get pretty balanced surround sound that allows us to pick up all kinds of nuances. While the video might appear authentic, the sound is absolutely higher-tech. There’s often a low rumble that appears to accompany many of the strange occurrences. Your sub will deliver this quite dynamically. There are also very deep sub responses on things like slamming doors and the jump scare thuds that were also common in the first film. I guess it’s fair to say these “advanced” audio cues can be forgiven because sound is so important for the suspense and terror. It’s a very effective audio presentation that will deliver those jumps just as the filmmakers intended.
Found Footage: (3:49) HD This is really just deleted stuff.
I enjoyed Paranormal Activity 2 much more than the first film. It answers many of the questions left behind by the first film, such as what happened to Katie, and why are the demons haunting Kristi and Katie? It maintains the same ‘handheld camera’ style, or first-person narrative style. The images rotate between the six surveillance cameras and the family’s handheld camera. While the surveillance cameras capture most of the supernatural events, the handheld captures the family’s day-to-day life. I will not give away the details, but the shock value gradually increases as more supernatural events occur. Paranormal Activity 2 manages to intensify the shock value compared to the first film. I recommend this film to everyone. It is not a gory horror film, but it does have a fair amount of swearing. I am excited to see what the writers come up for the third film!
This review was written by Diane Tillis and Gino Sassani