I know I’m behind the curve here, seeing Paranormal Activity 2 only after it’s out of most mainstream theaters, but I wanted to chime in with a few opinions while they’re in mind. First of all, I should let you know I’m not a big fan of what the critics say about movies. If you like them, you’re going to like them. If not, not. I’m just letting you know what I thought.
Movies break into goods and bads. And if one severely outweighs the other, well, opinion made.
Paranormal Activity 2’s redeeming qualities?
It did more with the scares than its predecessor. It added smoothly to the plot of the first movie, without being too absurd. It amped up the scares without spending the same amount of time on the small stuff, as the first one did. The jump scares being louder and more violent, this movie had a much stronger sense of tension in the scenes that started slowly. The explanation for the camera equipment and its use were generally well supported and smooth with the story, helping make the movie a very visceral, real experience.
The movie did only what the first did. The same general storyline took place. The same cultural stereotypes were reinforced. The father still is frustratingly skeptical until he can’t be. The wife is still protectively concerned. It all goes to shit in the end.
What was brilliant about the better part of the first movie was the slow escalation of the paranormal phenomena. Obviously I’m a paranormal investigator, and they did their research. The childhood stories coming back to play on present life, the way the activity built around the couple’s fear, the varying degrees of happenings, it was all very real. Until the end of course, when it goes overboard, as it must – it’s a horror movie. Here though, the activity itself starts strong and violent and rushes into an end. Spoilers follow here:
But the end. Did the writers get bored and tired of their story or what? What was building to be a seamless tie with the first movie fell utterly flat in a kind of tacked on epilogue that didn’t even work to build tension. The wife is possessed out of nowhere, then equally as quickly is cured. The opportunity for the family to talk about whatever happened, a chance for a great dramatic scene, is utterly dropped. Three weeks later. What? No Denouement? No resolution? Then, as to follow the events of the first movie, we’re quickly caught up, and Katie (from the first movie) appears in the house, quickly kills everyone, and steals the baby. Done. Not so much as a dramatic or tense scene of buildup.
And those scenes from the trailer, where were they? The baby looking creepy in the street? Katie standing creepy-like in the doorway to the bathroom? Whatever was happening in the reflections of the crib?
And the character of the Nanny? I mean – Plot Device – of the Nanny. Talk about bad writing to add in a religious element.
Bad writing. That’s what it really comes down to. I liked the first movie. It was brilliant in the way it made a real haunting situation scary by only using subtleties. Try making your story about footsteps outside the hallway scary. It’s hard. And that movie killed it.
This movie? Doing different things. Did it do them well? Generally, yes. Was it still scary? Absolutely (the cabinet scene, in the kitchen had me grinning. What a great moment!). Did the writing utterly fall apart at the end for the sake of the story? yes. Does that make it about balance out with the one before it? Yes. Does that make me understand why the sequel got such rave reviews? Not a bit.
Those are my thoughts, from a ghost-hunting writer who carries a strong opinion about these things. Do you have an opinion? Sound off in the comments section below and tell me what you think. Good movie? Bad movie? Meh? Am I off base here? Let me know how you feel!