The one thing special about the ongoing Saw franchise is that every year a new sequel arrives in theaters, and you know exactly what to expect from it. Good or bad, it is what it is and there’s no denying that it’s a Saw sequel. With that franchise (supposedly) coming to an end, Paramount Pictures is ramping up their newfound series: Paranormal Activity. The biggest fear with the sequel, arriving in theaters October 22, is that the studio would pull a “Blair Witch 2” by taking the low budget fare and throwing millions of dollars at it. Fret not; Paranormal Activity 2 is completely true to its roots, establishing itself as a competent, cohesive and coherent addition to the franchise that not only lives up to the hype, but also builds upon the original’s mythology.
With that said, it should be pretty evident that Paranormal Activity 2 will solely be enjoyed by the fans of the first, and that haters shouldn’t touch this with a 10, 50, wait no, a 100 foot pole. In fact, if you hated the first film, and still feel the need to see the sequel, if I catch you bitching here on the site I might have to pull a Jay and Silent Bob on your ass (totally kidding of course).
Brutality aside, fans of Paranormal Activity are in for a treat. The sequel, while not better than, might be just as good as Oren Peli’s indie smash hit of 2009. This time around Tod Williams takes the helm and tells the story of a new family terrorized by a demon. Here’s the small bit of info I’ll share with you: The film is a quasi-prequel, the family is in fact related to Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat), and the baby’s name is Hunter. It will tie directly into the first film creating one hell of a creepy 3 hours; it’s a companion piece.
Penned by Michael R. Perry, Paranormal Activity 2 stays true to the first film’s mythology created by Peli. The demon’s arrival and actions are consistent with the first, which may or may not hinder your “shock” experience. Those familiar with PA will feel almost at home waiting for creeks, booms and giant pops. PA 2 is a (fun) endurance test as it asks audience to shut the f*ck up, turn off their cell phones, and wait patiently for an attack. Williams brilliantly holds for long seconds on shots of nothing that are all enhanced by a brooding rumble in the score, or quite simply, complete silence. The audience may be treated by a jolt, but at times they’re left watching a smooth transition into the next morning. The trick pulled is that once again the audience is left on edge, given barely any time to breathe. In fact, the PA team once again bring the demon into daylight giving the audience no time to relax. It’s a tense experience from the first to the very last frame that should be leaving you in complete silence.
The biggest disappointment for me was that it wasn’t a superior film. I expected things to escalate to a higher degree, like any sequel would, but I can’t help but commend the production team for doing only what was necessary to make the sequel work. Paranormal Activity 2 literally is the sexy twin sister of Paranormal Activity; they look slightly different, have a few variant birthmarks, and carry their own personalities – but neither one is better than the other. In fact, they’re tonally so similar that when the film ended I joked about republishing my initial review for the sequel.
It’s tough writing a review for a film without giving anything away, but truly all that is needed is a sentence that reads: “If you enjoyed Paranormal Activity you will enjoy its sequel just as much.” And to further my point, this is once again a movie that is best served IN A THEATER; the sound design and black surroundings enhance the experience. I had such a good time that if this is the beginning of a new decade of Paranormal sequels, I welcome it with open arms.