In recent years, an obvious trend has developed in horror filmmaking. Now more than ever, there is an effort to create horror films that are more like documentaries, more precisely "mockumentaries". Paranormal Activity is one of the better horror films to pull off this technique. I guess The Blair Witch Project, released ten years before, was the first horror film I can remember that did it well. Yesterday I watched the sequel to Paranormal Activity.
Something about these movies really scare the ever loving shit out of me, which is surprising because I don't get scared easily. In fact, I can't name many horror films that really fucked with my head like these films have. The sequel is just as good as the original in my opinion and it may even be more terrifying. The films works on all the same levels as its predecessor, and for the most part, beat for beat, it's a very similar film. These films work because they have a very slow lead up to the action. So many horror films are predictable these days and, while you know its coming, in Paranormal Activity 2 you really don't know when it's coming. You are just as clueless as the people living in the house and you'll find yourself looking all over trying to find some strange activity.
The scariest thing in a horror film shouldn't be what is seen but rather what our minds think up. Of course, we need horrific imagery to get us thinking but we need just enough and nothing more. Everyone finds different things scary because of life experiences and their own personal thoughts and beliefs. When you don't see everything that is happening you are forced to fill in the blanks yourself and your mind will come up with the most personally horrifying shit built just for you. Believe me, Paranormal Activity 2 has quite a good amount of terrifying action but it's really what they don't show that creates the uneasy feeling in the viewer. What is going on in that basement? What was that sound? What does the baby see that we cannot? You don't know and not knowing is pretty fucking terrifying.
Paranormal Activity 2 ties in the story and characters from the original really well. I won't spoil anything here but we learn that this is a problem that is facing two sisters since they were children, a point that was also brought up in the original film. If you saw the original you know what events happen to Katie and Micah. In this film, we witness the events that occur to Kristi, Katie's sister, and her family in their new home. The film takes place just before the original and ends after the original left off, I guess you can say its sort of a prequel and a sequel all in one.
The stakes a higher in this one with the addition of a baby character and a dog too. Nobody ever wants to see a dog die, ever. It's almost kind of annoying to me how much people get upset over a dog dying in a movie and if a person dies its like "WHATEV!" I really think people were more upset when something happened to the dog in this film over anything happening to the baby. Anyway, if you believe in all the ghost mythology, it is said that children can see ghosts while adults often can't and the film plays with this idea. It makes you a bit uneasy when you know that this little baby can see this psycho weird supernatural shit at night and is crying bloody murder but his mother thinks he's just cranky and needs to be put back to sleep.
I found it a bit frustrating when the family wouldn't watch the tapes from the security cameras after weird shit went down. Often times, they would just watch one little part of the events from the night before or just not at all. I guess it wouldn't be much of a horror film if you didn't get frustrated with how stupid some of the characters were. I also found it pretty insane that the family wouldn't just get the fuck out of the house and never come back, that always surprises me with these types of films. I mean, FUCK MAN!, after the first night of loud sounds and shit falling I'd be like "Peace, let's call the Realtor!" But then again, that wouldn't be much of a horror movie either if they left the house after a pot fell, some banging was heard and then the credits rolled.
Anyway, if you liked the first one, check this one out for sure. If you didn't see the first one and wanna get scared then head down to your local theater. Or even better, I say watch the first one (its on Netflix Watch Instantly) in your house, alone and with no lights on in the middle of the night. That'd be a good ol' time.