Directed by: Todd Williams
Premise: A prequel to the 2009 film. The sister and brother in law of the couple haunted in the original film cope with ominous supernatural occurrences at their home.
What Works: The early scenes of Paranormal Activity 2 in which the characters are introduced are the one area in which this follow up is superior. Where the couple of the original Paranormal Activity were rather obnoxious, the family of this new film have some authentic relationships that make the audience invest in the haunting.
What Doesn’t: Paranormal Activity 2 is designed to be a prequel to the original film but the links to the events of its predecessor are tenuous at best. As a prequel the film suffers because there is no compelling reason to share the story of this earlier haunting. Prequels must change the way we view the original film or at least put the events of its predecessor in a broader context. Paranormal Activity 2‘s attempts at doing this end up undermining the integrity of the original film. It is one thing to watch a couple deal with potentially supernatural activity, but to know that their sibling and in-law experienced the exact same thing just months earlier strains credulity and makes the couple of the original film look even stupider than they already did. Paranormal Activity 2 is largely a rehash of the same visuals and scenarios of the first film but does not do them nearly as well. The pacing of the film isn’t as effective and it does not use subtle movements and shadows as well the original. As a found footage pseudo-documentary, the film strains to find excuses to keep the characters operating a camera (and thereby keep the movie going) and as the film goes on it becomes more and more ridiculous. Paranormal Activity 2 fails most loudly in its ending, which is stupid and anticlimactic.
Bottom Line: The original Paranormal Activity was like a well told and very clever joke. The sequel is a clumsy retelling of that same joke and its familiarity wears the novelty thin.
Episode: N/A (October 31, 2010)