Monday, November 1, 2010

Higgens Network: Paranormal Activity 2

Last year a horror film did the incredible: interested people. Paranormal Activity wasn’t another torture porn or half-assed slasher film. It was actually an original voice that—prepare yourself—scared people. It wasn’t a perfect film, but it reeked of originality and was done for very little money.

So of course Hollywood made a sequel. This didn’t have to be this way. Just haunt another unexpected suburban house. Instead they insisted on continuing the story. In the first film Katie and Micah are haunted by a demon. They use Micah’s expensive new film camera to capture all of the mysterious actions. It was taking the groundwork set by The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield in a more familiar environment.

Just like when Hollywood remade REC and called it Quarantine, they took all of the same Legos to create a blander design. Paranormal Activity 2 records the days and nights of Katie’s sister, Kristi, and her family a few weeks before the first film. Kristi lives with her husband, Dan, her step-daughter, Ali, her new son Hunter, and their maid Marine.

Sure enough, plenty of spooky things start happening and thankfully their randomly film all of their existence. Characters randomly bring a digital camera into their most intimate conversations and never recognize how weird that is. They even go as far as to frame a bunch of shots. They also set up six security cameras in various places in their house. The first movie had reason behind their conversations being filmed; this movie has it because there needs to be a movie. Also instead of letting the scenes play out, they use jump cuts to further remind us of the man behind the curtain.

This set of actors aren’t as good at naturalistic conversations as Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat were. They both return for cameos, but they are what sold the first movie. Their honest banter proved themselves as a relationship and was always conscientious of a camera recording them. This group is just awkward and unbelievable most of the time. Especially when they delve into clichés like saying “It was the wind that slammed the door shut despite the fact the door from inside.”

None of the scares are as memorable and the instance on expanding the mythology is mind-boggling stupid. Of course things are uncovered by the two tired means of discovery: One Google search and relying on a wise Hispanic woman who has known this for years. It is not as “dark” as it thinks it is and it ruins some of the unpredictable nature of the first film. Unless it’s really clever, giving motivation to horror creatures is not a good idea. Especially when it’s as boring as wanting a baby.

This isn’t as bad as so many other horror sequels, but it suffers from being very bland and unnecessary. It’s like how jump scares operate: you’re startled for a second but the more you think back at it, it wasn’t really that impressive. Just loud.

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