Tod Williams’ speedily assembled sequel to Oren Peli’s DIY horror hit is better than we might have expected, worse than we might have hoped.
Opening 60 days before the climactic, Spielberg-suggested demise of Micah Sloat in the first movie, Paranormal Activity 2 introduces a new family (replete with baby, teenage daughter and dog), a new house and, courtesy of six security cameras rigged strategically about the premises, new angles. What it doesn’t have is new scares.
Paranormal Activity, of course, had the advantage of surprise – its no-names, no-budget conception and its rigorous eschewing of stylistic bells and whistles allowing it to sneak up on unsuspecting viewers.
Williams’ sequel suffers from diminishing returns. It inevitably rolls out the same tricks – swinging doors, shifting shadows, sudden bangs – while any additions, be they characters, set-ups or backstory, only pollute the purity of the first movie. (How the events of this prequel lead to the haunting of Micah and Katie in the original is tidily established, though prone to gaps in logic.)
Still, after a slow burn, repetitive build-up, Williams and writer Michael R Perry deliver three scenes to remember/ psychologically scar, including a sting so elaborately orchestrated, so explosive, it will feature in all future ‘greatest jump’ lists.
A further chilling scenario lurks among three minutes of deleted scenes, but an optional extended cut of the film adds only six minutes and some rightly excised nonsense with a flaming kitchen pan.
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