It was a couple of years back when I had first heard about a little movie called Paranormal Activity. Word around the web called it one of the most frightening films to come along in years. Needless to say, I had to see it.
And see it, I did. And it was pretty freaky. Not long after its success, there was an announcement for Paranormal Activity 2. The cynic in me automatically jumped to the conclusion that this was going to be a cash-in; a film that was more about making a quick buck than anything.
After seeing it this past Friday, I can say this: I was half right. Paranormal Activity 2 was Paranormal Activity, but turned up to eleven. There are more cameras and the “reactions” are more drastic, but there are plenty of creepy elements that make it feel like a decent sequel. What bothered me about PA2 was the fact that they try to explain way too much, dragging in a backstory about the demon’s origins, and in doing so they end up convoluting and contradicting ideas that were put forth in the original. Like I said, turned up to eleven.
As a stand-alone film, Paranormal 2 is pretty good. It’s only when you stack it up beside the first one that the problems start to shine through. The plot points that are contradictory to the original not only damage the sequel, but they also slightly tarnish everything that was set up in the original.
For instance — and slight SPOILERS will follow — Paranormal Activity 2 is both prequel and sequel to Paranormal Activity, and, surprise surprise, Katie and Micah make an appearance in the prequel portion. This is a nice treat for fans of the original…until Katie opens her mouth and says things that completely contradict what she does and how she acts during the first film.
Add in their contrived explanation for the demon’s existence and it starts to become far less creepy. No longer is this a random haunting; there is a pre-conceived purpose to the demon being in Katie’s life. Much like the original Halloween, it’s a lot creepier when you don’t know why this horrible thing is happening to the seemingly innocent people. But again, not only is PA2 less creepy because of this explanation, but, in retrospect, knowing these facts, the “original” haunting of Katie and Micah is no longer as effective.
That’s not to say there is nothing worthwhile in Paranormal 2, but the biggest scare was already done in the original, albeit to a lesser degree. Recommending Paranormal Activity 2 is a slippery slope. On one hand, it has some truly creepy moments and it is worth seeing. The question you have to answer for yourself is this: do I see PA2 and risk ruining what made the original creepy, or do I skip it and hold on to the first film’s originality?