Friday, October 22, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2

Movies don’t scare me.  The blood, the shrieking music, the jumping out from behind a door; it’s all so purposefully unrelenting.  So, the fact that Paranormal Activity scared the living shit out of me (almost, it seemed, quite literally) says a lot. 

A year ago, I spent 86 dreadful minutes in a movie theatre, watching a helpless couple be terrorized by an unseen demon.  That film, which still remains the most profitable movie ever made (it cost 10 grand, it banked 107 mil), is the Blair Witch Project of our time.  Its sequel, however, doesn’t quite reach its bar.

But, did you see Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2?  Exactly.  Paranormal Activity 2 isn’t better than the first, but it comes damn close.

You think the preview gives too much away?  It doesn’t, by a long shot.  In fact, it wouldn’t be fair for me to tell you even the most mundane details about the new family being terrorized.  So instead, I’ll focus on the film’s overall effect.

There is no noise.  In my review for the first film, I spent a great deal of time focusing on a subtle noise that came through the soundtrack everytime something bad was about to happen.  It was so restrained, we didn’t even recognize it the first few times.  But after a while, our spines were tingling the moment that sound began.  I believe I compared the experience to that of Pavlov’s dogs.

This film, sadly, doesn’t grip you like that.  It has great moments of shocking terror and holy-shit-cover-your-eyes panic, but it doesn’t envelop you in fear as well as last year.

When reviewing sequels (or remakes or prequels or trilogies) I try not to compare the movie to the first film.  But, in this case, it deserves to be done, simply because you cannot see Paranormal Activity 2 without seeing the first one.  There were a few very obvious people in my packed theatre who were two steps behind. 

After viewing part one, I had trouble sleeping for a few days (which, except for Deliverance, has never happened to me).  And while I know I’ll sleep well tonight, there’s a scene in the sequel that is easily the freakiest thing to take place in both films.  This movie is a necessary fun, but dear God, don’t ruin it with a third one.  B

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