Sunday, September 18, 2016

Paranormal Activity 2 Review

I have gotten to the point with found footage where I want the filmmakers to sell me their realism by delivering quality performances and a halfway decent explanation of why a character is filming every damn moment of their lives, but please, don't literally try to tell me it's real. The opening frame of Paranormal Activity 2 is a message from Paramount Pictures thanking the families of the deceased, and this immediately leaves a bad taste in my mouth because trying too hard makes me cringe. Everyone sitting in the cinema opening night knows this is fake, right? Attempting to duplicate the magic that came with The Blair Witch Project, the film that actually convinced members of the audience that it was made with authentic footage, was impossible to achieve by the time the Paranormal Activity franchise invaded the sub-genre.

That being said, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this film after a rocky start. The performances are solid, selling the notion that we are watching people rather than actors, and the one advantage the first two Paranormal Activity films have over other found footage entries is the addition of the security cameras into the home, allowing much of what we see to be piped through that system rather than the inclusion of an absurd character that never puts a camera down, even when someone is looking at them literally screaming "PUT THE CAMERA DOWN!". Running at barely over 90 minutes in length, the pacing is excellent, constantly keeping me on my toes yet being patient enough to give me a chance to fully examine frames rather than edit manically for the sake of perceived action.

I wasn't fully aware of the plot of Paranormal Activity 2 so I was caught off guard by the fact that it was so closely tied to the first movie, and the connective tissue between the two is handled well. Unfortunately with this connectivity comes the same problem I had with the original, and that is the desire to give backstory when I believe providing none would have been more effective. I don't need to know how or why these people got there, or what from their past could have attracted a demonic possession today. The Paranormal Activity series would benefit from being bare bones simple, just introduce a family to a home, make shit go crazy and let us witness how it unfolds. As soon as the daughter of the family got on her computer and did research in regards to their terrifying circumstances, the disappointment set in and what was once a riveting slice of paranormal fun lost a bit of its luster.


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