Thursday, February 3, 2011

Insomniac theater presents: Paranormal Activity 2

Large portions of both
films are in night vision
Possibly one of the most horrifying, real life moments in recent memory was Halloween weekend, 2009, while I was watching Paranormal Activity (2007, Oren Peli).  Liza, a friend, was visiting from out of town and staying in the extra bedroom in our house.  Everyone had gone to bed except me: I stayed up to watch the movie.  During one of the long, slow, blue and white scenes filmed from the surveillance cameras, and unobserved  by me, Liza came out of her room and started walking to the living room, I was so engrossed in watching the screen for any sign of whatever might happen that I jumped about a foot when I saw her moving towards me down the dark hallway.

The strength of Paranormal Activity  was in the slow pacing and incremental building of suspense.  By the time Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston) had their final confrontation with the demon, I was a raw nerve.

Last night, Olivia and I watched the sequel and I  think I Paranormal Activity 2'd  a little in my pants.

On one level, Paranormal Activity 2  (2010, directed by Tod Williams) didn't offer much that was original or new: there were plenty long surveillance camera scenes where nothing or very little happened.  There were no new twists on the themes introduced in the first film and there was an unbearably slow middle section that I skipped.

Instead of an unmarried couple, Paranormal Activity 2 begins with a small family at the birth of its four member, Hunter.   The other members are Kristi, the mother (Sprague Grayden), Daniel, the father (Brian Boland), and adolescent daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim). There is also Martine (Vivis Cortez), the housekeeper, nanny and part time exorcist.

Abby looks at a doorway before going back to sleep
Plus Abbey, the not watching dog.  I'm serious, whenever there was mysterious bangings and crashings going on, the dog was notably absent.  She certainly never kicked up a ruckus like my feeble minded pooch does whenever a car door slams in the neighborhood.

Both films are "found footage," which made following a complicated plot difficult. Thanks to Wikipedia, I discovered that Kristi and Katie are sisters and Paranormal Activity 2 takes place in the months leading up to the events of the first film.

The acting was mostly overly subdued, reminding me of the despised "mumble core" style performance, escalating to the frenzied, incoherent, in your face, "I am emoting now!" delivery.

I didn't notice much of that stuff until today, when I starting thinking about this review, because I was too busy jumping out of my skin in terror everytime a pot mysteriously fell or weird noises came from  off camera.  On this level, Paranormal Activity 2 succeeds.  By reusing the formula from the first movie, the second film delivered plenty of shocks and scares that made watching it a very exciting experience.

Olivia was again the recipient of my terrified grabs during the spooky, crazy stuff that happened in the last third of the film.  Eventually, she gave me that certain look which said if I didn't get myself under control, I would soon have another moment of horror of the unparanoramal activity kind.

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