Directed by Tod Williams

Written by Michael R. Perry

Paramount Pictures

It’s difficult to talk about Paranormal Activity 2 without getting into spoilers, but let’s try.

The challenge the filmmakers have here is trying to match, let alone exceed, the scares generated by the first film. I had the chance to see Paranormal Activity in early September last year, about six weeks before it opened and before the “you’ve got to go see this” hype began. Suitably unarmed, I was genuinely frightened and did not sleep well that night.

My sleep last night, having seen PA2, was untroubled, but that’s not to say htat I didn’t enjoy it or was not freaked out on occasion. Indeed, director Tod Williams (The Adventures of Sebastian Cole) and writer Michael R. Perry (TV’s “The Dead Zone”) have taken the style of the first film (hand-held and security camera footage, choppy editing, no score) and applied it to a similar story which, without giving anything away, complements and completes the story started by the first film. So again we have a family terrorized by a demon, again the man of the house is sceptical, again the impersonal gaze of the camera lens captures acts of evil which cause a visceral response in us, the audience.

To that end, Paranormal Activity 2 must be seen in a theatre. Unlike The Exorcist – still the scariest film ever made – which I just re-watched on Blu-ray last week and maintains its ability to freak you out in the comfort of your own home, PA2 is all about sudden loud noises or that subterranean rumbling (only available in a quality theatre) which precedes the most disturbing events or the manifestations of the demon. It’s also all about our communal reaction to those events.

Those who haven’t seen the first film are best advised to see it first in order to fully appreciate the horror of PA2’s final act. Despite the film being composed of “found footage” and is therefore not accompanied by a score to point out important bits of story and dialogue, there is a plot here to be pieced together, one which leads to the inevitability of the film’s final, horrifying scene.

As to whether a sequel was necessary, well, it was inevitable, and to Paramount’s credit, they have respected the aesthetic of the first film and delivered a product which is superior to a paint-by-the-numbers sequel. In fact, regarding the word “sequel”… well, I won’t go there. Suffice it to say that Paranormal Activity 2 has more than a ghost of a chance of being remembered as an effective fright flick.

Rating: 3.5/5



  1. I don’t want to give anything away either, but I will say that I felt that the way they tie the 2 films together was simultaneously clever and a bit of a cheat. The plot twists in PA2, surprising though they may have been, had the effect of rendering a key element of what we know about Katie’s back story from PA1 apocryphal.
    Still, you are correct. As far as (un)necessary sequels go, we could have been served up something far worse. Something like, oh I don’t know…a little travesty called BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2, for instance?

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