Paranormal Activity 2
Director: Tod Williams

Cast: Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim, Sprague Grayden
Review by Brian M. Sammons

The follow up to last year’s fright phenom, Paranormal Activity, this flick actually does a pretty unique thing, being a prequel, a sequel, and a concurrent second story to the first movie all rolled in one. It expands on the spooky mythology begun in the first film and includes the two doomed characters from that movie as well. The cast of this film is likewise expanded, consisting of a husband, wife, teen daughter, newborn baby son, the family dog, and perhaps what’s looking to be the new big cinema cliché, the Mystic Mexican. Ok, the well-meaning and way too spiritually informed housekeeper in this movie could be of any Latin heritage, I just think the term “Mystic Mexican” has a nice ring to it. I honestly do not mean to offend anyone by it. Hey, I’m not the one who keeps shoehorning Latinos into these roles. Well at least this woman doesn’t toss buttered toast around to prove evil’s afoot *cough* Devil *cough* or has to do battle with a satanic goat *cough* Drag Me to Hell *cough*. Sorry about that, I am just getting over a cold.

Not only is the cast increased, but so too are the number of cameras recording the spooktacular events. After a break-in at the family’s somewhat well to do home, several security cameras are installed to catch the baddies in the act should they come back. This increased coverage does allow for a bit more visual flair than one guy running around with a handheld camera, although there are plenty of handheld shots to be found here as well. Unfortunately it also allows for come cinematic cheats.

Case in point, one scene shows the mother and baby playing in the child’s room from the camera mounted in the room’s corner. Then it cuts to a handheld camera the mother is using (this is before the big bad haunting stuff, who really records this much of their life?) When the scene cuts back to the corner security camera you can see that the closet door in the kid’s room is now slightly open. Yeah that’s a bit creepy, unless you take a second to wonder who edited this scene together to specifically not show the closet door opening in the hopes of getting an “A-ha” moment.

Oh hi, suspension of disbelief, how you’re doing? BANG, you’re dead!

The mother of this family is also the sister to Katie, the haunted woman from the first Paranormal Activity so right there is your connection. If you remember in the first flick, Katie does tell her tool of a boyfriend, Mica, that both she and her sister were the targets of some sort of demonic bogeyman as young girls. Well this movie explores that further and provides a few answers to some of the questions left over from the previous movie.

This Paranormal Activity 2 does pretty well. There are also a few good moments that don’t rely on the multiple camera cuts like the afore mentioned example that do lay down a sinister vibe. However the whole movie is all but ruined when the family does something incredibly selfish, stupid, evil and worst of all, downright unbelievable and out of character to save someone from a slight case of … well let’s just say something bad. I don’t want to give away what exactly it is, or what the family does to stop it, but it comes so fast out of left field that it just left me thinking, “Really, that’s the best you could come up with?” Also afterwards, everyone seems to be fine with what they just did despite the hideous nature of it.

Yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of that obvious plot twist of convenience.

While the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack brought out by Paramount offers two versions of the film, it is sadly almost special feature free. Even the two different versions of the movie, one the theatrical cut and the other the “unrated director’s cut” are 99.5% similar. Don’t believe the hype, if you are expecting a lot more blood, nudity, frights, or even just more character development, you’ll be disappointed. No, what you get in this director’s cut is a few scenes that were wisely deleted from the original film for pacing sake. Their reintroduction here brings nothing new to the movie and more importantly, no new thrills, unless you think the father accidently getting burned in the hot tub (dun dun duhhhnnn) is frightening. As for those sadly lack luster extras I hinted at before, there is only one. Labeled as “found footage” it is a deleted scene. Yep a single deleted scene is the sum total of special features on this disc. Be still my beating heart.

Paranormal Activity 2 is an ok sequel. It does expand the mythology of the series somewhat and has a few creepy moments. If you were a fan of the first film and want to know more of the Katie and Mica story then this will do that for you. I enjoyed watching it once, but don’t know if I would watch it again anytime soon. Consider that when thinking about adding this to your home library.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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