Posted by: Peter Hall
Directed by Tod Williams, 2010
Written by Michael R. Perry
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 may just be one of the best horror movie surprises of the year. Obviously it is destined to be a hit after the massive success of the first film, which is the kind of movie that even if you hated, you had to admire it. But who was really expecting it to be a smart, progressive approach to the presentation? After all, what made the first movie so great was that it wasn’t by a master director of the genre, it was made by a dude for $15,000 in his own house with amateur actors. It was the entire homemade aspect of it that made its haunted house story so damned effective with audiences the world over, surely a studio’s attempt to franchise the concept would dull the effect, no?
It doesn’t. It doesn’t dull it one bit. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 is not only as creepy and effective as Oren Peli’s original film, but it bests the film in almost every regard. As well a sequel should.
That’s why it’s such a surprise how rock solid the film actually is. Visually, it’s not very hard to emulate what made the original film such a scary experience, but it is a difficult task to not merely raise the bar in the fright department. A good sequel needs to both explore and elevate the material the first film introduced, and that is exactly what Tod Williams’ film does. I won’t say how it does so for risk of spoilers, but I will say that the transition between the two films is inspired and graceful and that if you’ve somehow escaped seeing Peli’s experiment thus far, you’re going to want to see it before you see this one.