Paranormal Activity 2

Photo: allmoviephoto.com
(Frights off.)

Starring Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim, William Juan Preito, Jackson Xenia Prieto and Katie Featherston. Directed by Tod Williams. 91 minutes. 14A

A year ago, a short, blonde scary movie lover lost a good chunk of her skin after attending a screening of the supernatural sensation, Paranormal Activity. Completely unprepared for its startlingly subtle scares and too-real special effects, she decided to go to a midnight showing, before heading home to a dark, empty house. Her eyes remained wide open for two dark, paranoid days. After seeing the sequel, however, she could barely keep her eyes open.

No, I wasn't squeezing my lids together out of inexplicable fear. I was actually falling into a deep, boredom-induced sleep. Because, despite all the hype - both personal and media-based - and frequent appearances of by a Ouiji board, Paranormal Activity 2 can't seem to resurrect the slow-burning-yet-skin-crawly horror of its predecessor.

Sure, Paranormal Activity 2 features some of the same cast (Micah and Katie are back in sorta-flashbacks) and scare tactics (the pulling out of bed moment is done again, on a much larger scale) as the original. But with the exception of the final twist (which is quite smart), it's missing everything that made the it so freakin' frightening.

While Paranormal Activity was equally slow-moving in its first half, when it finally got its creep on, it went all-out. In this new instalment, however, the freak outs are too few and far between.
There’s really nothing to scream about in this flick, which follows a family who gets terrorized by an evil spirit. The director clearly tried to take the first format to the next level, adding night-vision security cams to every corner of the house (the first had only one) and putting two horror no-nos (a baby and a dog) in danger, but the result is underwhelming, and sometimes even laughable. Like when their pool cleaner gets possessed and starts wandering out of the water. I guess demons love dingy midnight dips?

The only highlight of the otherwise lame supernatural tale is also its downfall. Unlike most horror flicks, Paranormal Activity 2 spends a significant amount of time developing its characters and trying to make us worry about them. The problem is, they’re too clueless – they don’t even think to check the tapes from their newly installed security system until it’s too late - to really care for.

The best of actor of the bunch is Sprague Grayden, who plays the movie’s matriarch, but she’s nothing to lose sleep about. It doesn’t help that she’s a semi-familiar face. At least to me. Part of the appeal of the first film was the fact that you didn’t know the actors. It made their story seem even more real and Blair Witch-y. But since Grayden has made serious guest spots on two of my all-time favourite shows, Six Feet Under and Joan of Arcadia, I knew the ghost story was wholly faux from the get-go.

Maybe it was my way-high expectations. Or perhaps it had to do with the fact that I saw it at 11:30 in the morning. But Paranormal Activity 2 was a little too normal for me. C

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