Paranormal Activity 2 (91 minutes) is pretty freakin’ scary. It is difficult to pro-duce a film, much less a film sequel, with scary scenes that produce genuine terror rather than relying on blood, guts, and vio-lence to produce “horror.” Monsters aren’t scary, murderers aren’t scary, and special effects aren’t scary. Buckets of blood, muti-lation, torture … these elements produce revulsion, but not authentic scares.
One really great thing about the original was the slow building suspense that captured its audience. Happily, the sequel to this low-budget heart stopper is equally reliant on sudden shocks and the immediacy of the moment to captivate the audience. It is difficult to think of another movie that has affected a Fayetteville audience so much so that a theater full of people jumps as one.
From the comfort of a seat, it is easy to second guess the characters. However, it is rare, and more than a little bit fun, to hear a Fayetteville audience shout directions and warnings at the screen.
Remember Katie Featherston from the first film? Well, this film managed to blend its narrative into the story of Katie, actually providing a new perspective on the first movie. The film opens on a house around the block from the setting of the original movie. Kristi Rey is bringing her new son Hunter home. A montage of video clips builds a sense of the everyday, demonstrating that the family is young, wealthy, and happy.
Kristi is married to Dan, and in addition to Hunter they are raising Ali (Dan’s daughter with his late wife). These classic representatives of the bour-geoisie also have a live-in (?) nanny/cook/maid, Martine, as well as a German Shepard named Abby. They spend a great deal of time relaxing poolside and having Kodak moments. Everything is lovely until they arrive home one evening to discover a seeming break-in. Although nothing valuable is missing, the event unsettles the whole family and provokes Dan to install security cameras.
Martine, who is very suspicious and also very religious (but in a totally non-stereotypical way … wait, that is totally stereotypical. Nevermind) decides that the house is clouded with evil and needs a smoke cleansing. Anyway, she takes action to protect the family, but Dan doesn’t understand and decides to exercise some patriarchal authority by firing Martine. His female house-hold doesn’t use up much camera time defending Martine, but maybe that all occurred off-camera.
The security cameras begin capturing some unusual events, although noth-ing too alarming happens until the suspense has reached a screaming pitch. Subtle motions capture the eye as the security cameras switch from perspective to perspective. Ordinary explanations are found for extraordinarily weird events, but the family is the proverbial frog in the slowly heated pot of water. Finally, events occur which drive Ali to consult the Internet, since it is so full of credible information about ghosts and demons.
And that’s when things start getting interesting. The incidents become stranger and harder to ignore. Despite the discomfort of his family, Dan is really quite eager to leave his women home alone so he can go ahead and attend to imaginary errands that nevertheless sound quite urgent. Finally, even Dan Everything has an Ordinary Explanation Man is willing to call in the Scooby Gang.
This is one of those movies you definitely want to see in the theaters, and the bigger the crowd, the better.