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Paranormal Activity 2


Stars: Sprague Gradyen, Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim, Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Vivis

Director: Tod Williams

Some sequels suck. This is one of them.

Given the commercial success of the (for me, somewhat overrated) zero-budget original, I guess a follow-on was inevitable especially since the format – more peeping tom pictures from security cameras – was invitingly cheap to bring to screen life. And what do we get? More of the same only less effective and more wearisome.

Back come Sloat and Featherston, the ‘stars’ of the first movie to face another bout of supernatural terror, this time set in the home of Featherson’s sister Grayden, her husband Boland, teenage sister Ephraim, an ethnic nanny (Vivis) –presumably written in to add a spice of quasi-religious ‘reality’ to the mystical proceedings – and a young boy baby whom, we learn (I think, since coherent narrative is not a strong point of the affair) is being stalked by a demon…

The good news is when the ‘jump-out-of-your-skin’ moments finally arrive, they work very well indeed: even the resolutely blasé preview audience reacted with shocked intakes of breath, grunts and other critical tropes. And remember, this was the same audience that up to that time had been laughing in a superior manner at the increasingly egregious incidents on offer.

The bad news, then – and it really is bad – is that it takes so long for Paranormal Activity 2 to finally cough up anything even vaguely interesting that by then paying audiences would have either been asleep or at the box-office asking for a refund. Director Williams may believe that watching repetitively tedious footage from fixed-aspect security cameras adds atmosphere. For me, it simply added another layer of tedium to a redundant sequel whose greatest achievement, possibly, will be to introduce the world to a swimming pool cleaner with an apparent life of its own.

The acting is what you expect, ‘rational’ without being involving until the effectively terrifying (if too late to save the movie) climactic sequence(s). In truth, an Alsatian dog and the infant give the most memorable performances in yet another movie that reckons that presenting its dramatically anorexic story as being ‘reality’ shown through point-of-view adds credibility.

The Blair Witch Project has a lot to answer for.

Alan Frank

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour.
91 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 23 Oct 2010