Paranormal Activity 2 Review

Published 4 years ago by

paranormal activity 2 review Paranormal Activity 2 Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman Reviews Paranormal Activity 2

The first Paranormal Activity was a seemingly simple little movie made for $11,000, and then by some miracle spared a big budget remake and released a year ago as made (with a slight change to the original ending). It was one of those movies that people either “got” and loved, or didn’t, and hated.

It went on to make almost $200 million worldwide.

Go figure.

As you can imagine, Paramount (which distributed the first film with a clever “Demand It” viral campaign) figured this was ripe for a sequel – and much like the Saw franchise (actually it’s the only thing it has in common with that series of films) they cranked a second film out for release a year after the first.

So there are a a couple of questions:

  1. Is this one as good as, better than, or worse than the first?
  2. Will your enjoyment of this one depend on how you felt about the first one?

To the first question I will say that I believe this film is better than the first one – a tough thing to pull off considering that the “gimmick” of the first is already known. To the second I’ll say that even if you weren’t a fan of the first one, you might still like this second film.

If you thought that this film will be completely disconnected from the first, you’d be wrong – it’s actually (kind of) a prequel (mostly), and ties into and dovetails with the last film quite nicely. It starts out two months before the first film – with Katie’s sister, brother in law, baby nephew and teenage step-niece the focus.

The excuse this time around for the tons of videotaping going on (before anything spooky happens) is the arrival of their newborn son, Hunter. The camcorder is on constantly – including the day they come home to find their home completely trashed. Every room has been essentially turned upside down with everything tossed about – except for Hunter’s bedroom. And nothing has been stolen.

This prompts the installation of a full-on security system, including indoor and outdoor cameras with motion detectors. We soon become very familiar with the point of view of the five cameras placed around the house: One overlooking the pool, two in the kitchen, one in the entryway and one in the baby’s room. These give us not only an anchor (every night we cycle through all five) but also give us a respite from the prospect of an entire film shot in shaky-cam.

As in the first film, nothing really major happens for a long time and the fun/scariness of it is the dread and anticipation of when something will finally happen… and what that something might be. Things start off in a very subtle way, and you’ll find yourself scanning all four corners of the screen in the security camera shots trying to get the jump on whatever may be about to scare you.

As in the first film, the husband is a skeptic – writing off his wife’s descriptions of what happened with rational explanations. Even with the recorded video footage, he writes things off to the wind slamming a door closed, or his wife not placing a pan quite correctly on a kitchen hook, causing it to fall. At first the daughter thinks it would be cool to have a ghost haunting their home, but soon enough she comes to her stepmother’s side and they both have to convince the man of the house they’re not crazy.

Paranormal Activity 2 is a second film that manages to take what made the first film interesting, and expand and intensify it. The constant cycling through the video camera shots every night with nothing happening for the most part is both reassuring and unnerving at the same time. You know eventually you’ll see SOMETHING happen in one of those shots every time the cycle starts – and you get to a point where you’re feeling a combination of being a bit bored… but relieved that nothing happened.

For me, the very things that people didn’t like about the first one (and might not like about this one) are things that are a plus: The use of suspense and dread instead of gore and cheap jump scares (there’s not a cat to jump into the shot and screech anywhere to be seen). The fact that it’s actually scarier to imagine what might be behind a door than to actually be shown it. The lack of manipulative music, “cool” editing techniques, etc. The reality-based look and approach to the whole thing just makes it hit that much closer to home – and when I say “home” I mean it. Late at night, alone, only one light on. This movie, like the first one, sticks with you in those late moments just before you get ready to turn in.

Director Tod Williams and writer Michael R. Perry (with input from Oren Peli, the fellow who wrote, directed and produced the first one) had a heck of a job ahead of them trying to do a follow up to a seemingly one-shot film like Paranormal Activity – but I think they did a fine job of it. The actors are believable and there are actually quite a few moments of laugh out loud humor from the dad/husband, who plays a bit of the comedian in his family (reminded me of myself in that regard).

As with the first, I’m confused at the decision to go for the R rating here. It’s mainly for language, which could have been easily eliminated. I’m not a big fan of PG-13 horror movies or slimming down an R to squeak under the PG-13 bar, but in a film like this where it’s all atmosphere and suspense (with some violence, yes) it seems like they made have made more money by not going the R route. Maybe they were shooting for that R rating horror movie “street cred?”

There are probably a good half-dozen real scares in the movie, and if I have one complaint it’s that overall it feels like an interesting journey that doesn’t end up anywhere… interesting. Most of the film goes by before it really kicks into gear, and then it’s over pretty quickly. If we were on a 10 scale here I’d probably have gone 7.5/10.

In the end, it delivers dread, makes you nervous and scares you, and what more can you ask from a horror movie? Too bad that it really leaves you wanting more when the credits start to roll.

Here’s the trailer for Paranormal Activity 2:

[poll id="86"]

If you want to talk about details of the film without worrying about spoiling it for others, head on over to our Paranormal Activity 2 spoilers discussion.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

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TAGS: 4 star movies, paranormal activity 2

207 Comments

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  1. I wasn’t a fan of the fist one at all although I loved the concept. I just couldn’t buy into it knowing it wasn’t “real” found footage. The second one was better however, and I think more actors improved the “realness”.

    • You couldn’t buy into the fact that the statement claiming “real found footage” is on the opening credits of a Hollywood horror movie you watched in a theater? Umm yeah…

      Glad you liked the second one for its “realness” lol.

      • I think he’s upset that they have the gaul to say it’s real found footage.

      • Well, seeing as how the movie “Catfish” is real and not a mocumentary or based on a true story, there is always a possibility of a real movie making it into theaters. I obviously knew it was fake way before it came out, but when first researching I was excited because of the what if factor. And maybe “believability” is a better word for it. And Paranormal Activity wasn’t made by “hollywood”. It was a low budget film that got good reaction and released in theaters.

        • Catfish is not real. It IS a mocumentary. It was based on a true-ish story. But the footage itself is not real.

    • I love the way these movies (both 1-2) suck the air out of the room. I love how they use your imagination of how the monster is. I think that all of the scares feel like you are there watching, wanting to call out to the person “watch out! there is a demon behind that door!” lol, I think that the fact you never see what “It” is terrifies. I think they should make one more connecting “the past” sisters lives secrets as to what is following them or tormenting them. It should be called “Past Paranormal.” I think that it would be the perfect end to create an epic trilogy!

      P.S. All you haters just cant admit that you got scared, doesn’t make you tough to disrespect spectacular horror. yeah there is little to no gore, little swearing the true aspect of fear that has been on the earth since Adam and Eve!

  2. Weird, just about an hour ago i found one of my (all black) cats staring in the corner blair witch stylee and was thinking about how i wanted to see paranormal activity 2. Now i have to see it. I give credit to what the first one did. Good campaign and good scares (mostly).

  3. This film was much better than the great first one. my sister forced me to watch the first one and i was soo scared but it was a great film and i had no idea why people where saying it was the first film ever made. Now the latest Paranormal activity 2 was great! Im not a real horror lover and i hated the saw films but this film was way beyond blood and guts. This is a must see for anyone that watched the first one (loved it or hated it). I saw this film on the 21st of october on the advanced screening in the uk and am so glad now that i did (even though i couldnt sleep for a long time after) XD. 5*

  4. Great movie. The first one bored me to sleep but number two is a MUST see! My only complaint is I was left wanting to see so much more. So sad when the movie ended :(

    • it was an awesome ending how the demon possessed the sister and killed the couple

  5. film was blooody scaryy mann

  6. The first was fantastic.

  7. Ok i HAVE to see this movie it looks fantastic!

  8. First off, let’s not hate on the SAW series! I’m not one for the gore, BUT this is the only horror film with awesome twists! It’s not the ghosts that scare me, but rather knowing that there are tons of crazies among us. lol The first paranormal activity was “OK” at it’s best. Like most of us, as a true horror fan I went to go see it. For some reason, I believed it was real and THAT is what scared me. Later, and very much disappointed I found out it wasn’t “real.” Duh! LOL Anyway, bottom line is, I will see the second PA 2. Still, the only real horror movie that scares me today is The Exorcist at 42 years young you won’t find me sleeping with the lights off after watching that movie!!!

    • the first Saw was brilliant, anything after that:redundant

      • I second that Ants.

      • Saw VI was pretty good. It took the series in a slightly different direction. I thought it was the best since the first. Can’t wait for the new one (even if it is in 3D :P )

    • Saw was one of the few movies where I could not watch past the first 20 minutes or so. It wasn’t the gore but the dark philosophical underpinnings of the movie that I found disturbing.

      The first PA was great. I may have to go see the 2nd now after this review.

  9. I really hated it. No. 1 was boring and so is no. 2. I paid $14 to watch it and I really regret it. I didn’t even jump once… while everyone was screaming I was bored just waiting for it to finish. The only good part was the end…

  10. During the beginning of the first film my mother though it was real. She believes in ghosts and all that superstitious crap that heavily lacks in emperical evidence and which cannot be supported by the scientific method. America is becoming dumber and dumber by the second with movies like this and Hereafter.

    • George, please explain to every single individual who believes in stuff like an after life, God etc (this includes other scientist)…what you or anyone else has figured out that we don’t already know that can absolutely 100% prove nothing like that exists. Please share. After you make a fool of yourself you can stop making such dumb comments. Thank you…

      • If there was hard evidence for ghosts existing science would adjust its’ views to that. We shouldn’t have to prove 100% that everything else doesn’t exist. A rational thinker would say that ghosts and gods most likely definitely don’t exist. Science is open to all things new, as long as they are tangible.
        Sorry, ranting now. PA 1 and 2 are both great BTW.

      • Will explained it perfectly for me. Why should I have to disprove somethng 100% when it has not even been proven in the first place? Plus there are and VERY few scientists that believe in a god and if they do believe in one then it is not in the form of an old man in the sky. Take Stephen Hawking for example, his view of “god” is the name of all the laws of the universe. So who is making a fool of themselves? I think YOU are.

        • Dude, George, chill out dude…just cause you and science dont believe in something, doesnt mean you should attack and belittle others for their believes. I personally dont believe in god or science, but i dont go around punching scientists and religious people in the face. Just have a little bit more respect please.

          • OK, kids, that’s enough. Don’t make me pull this website over.

            8)

            Vic

  11. This movie was great, much better than the first one. I enjoyed how it was a compltely different setting but with the same story line. I came to the movie believing it would be a completely different setting and situation, but it was a sort of prequel with a sequel ending. It is more than a great movie to see, if you have a silent participating audience. The beginning for me started out with a drunk man walking around with his voicemail playin for about five minutes so I missed any details. Throught the rest of the movie all the girls in the audience talked. Not the best movie to see opening night. 5 * though. ~GTL

  12. I have many “concerns” with, let’s just say the “editing” of this “paranormal activity” (real or whateva) – I do not recall Katie in sweats at the bathroom door in Paranormal Activity 2 (as shown in the trailer) and why is Hunter in the reflection of the mirror, but not the actual room view (also in the trailer)? I can so accept the movement of things due to paranormal activity, but the 2nd movie had too many “cuts” that reflect poor editing – cutting board with apples, then no cutting board with apples, then cutting board with apples – why would a demon be messing with a cutting board, or mail, or the curtains? It was hard to watch with a vigilant eye with all the discrepancies… maybe they should have spent less $$ and committed more time…

    • I definitely agree with you on the poor cuts. But the scene you mention is the only one I can recall that had poor editing. Heck, maybe it was even intentional. If it was it was a poor decision. I still Highly enjoyed the movie though. I’d have to say it was better than the first and the first PA ranks as one of my favorite movies. The kitchen scene scared the crap out of me. LOL Anyway, i’ll definitely be adding it to my collection.

  13. I liked the second movie over the first one. The first movie was a little boring at times but yea it did get good eventually. I think what sort of helped it get boring was the fact that there were only 2 characters. And in a sense, that also helped it feel all the more isolating and dreadful.

    But this movie solves the problem very well, I thought. There’s the step-daughter, the baby, the dog, the parents, and occasionally the maid. They find genuine ways to separate them–the maid does end up getting fired, and the parents leave the daughter alone to take care of the baby. Sounds familiar, right? Or the family goes out leaving the baby and the maid alone. Etc. So you never get tired of the characters and they all add something to the plot.

    The scares are actually slightly different from the first. Yea there are the typical loud-noise scares but there are new and even creepier scenes here. Like when *someone* is possessed…seriously those scenes are genuine “im emptying my bowels” scenes and like someone said earlier, I wish the movie were longer. The build up was done extremely well and when all hell breaks loose it does go by a little too quickly. They could have milked it a little longer (15 minutes) and made this movie even better but hopefully they will fix that in the DVD release with deleted scenes.

    I liked the ending, too. Although it makes it 100% clear that one year from now, a third PA will be released. And what’s worse is that it seems really easy to guess the plot of that third movie. But honestly, if they do as good of a job on that movie as they did with this one, I’ll be in line on the first showing. It’s worth the money for most people, and I think a good portion of the people that disliked the first one will like this one. There’s a faster pace to this movie, and the plot is slightly more developed.

  14. Great movie…do you think there will be a third one (with Ali as the main character confronting Katie)???

    • JAS,

      $41 million dollar opening weekend for a movie that cost under $3MM? I’m pretty sure they’ll be making a sequel. 8)

      Vic

      • ok Vic, im still a little leery about seeing this, is it really worth a look, being a fan of the first one..do they add more to the scare factor? or is it the same stuff we see in the first film?

        • Anthony,

          I think if you liked the first one you’ll like this one.

          Vic

  15. I found this movie incredibly boring, I was expecting a scary thrill.
    Nope, nothing.

    • the first one definitely was. So the second one is too?

  16. it didn’t scare me in the impressive way. the whole movie feels like trying to hard to scare people, not as natural as the first one.

    Overall, i will give 6 point.

  17. the first paranormal activity put me to sleep. A big snorree… It didn’t scare me at all I was waiting and waiting for something to actually happen.. All it was was a few knocks and noises.. I’m hoping the second one will at least keep me awake.

  18. i rEALLY WANT TO SEE THIS MOVIE. LIKE REALLY BAD! I HOPE I LIKE IT. LOLZ!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    • Psst… your Caps Lock is on…

  19. **(SPOILER ALERT)**
    I thought this was better, or just as good as the original Paranormal Activity. The only thing being it took a while to get going, and (if i missed something, ignore the following point) wasnt too open in it being before the first one. I thought when Katie is asked ‘where’s Micah?’ and her response of ‘….He.. wasnt up for hanging out today.’ Upside, though, the action, had more action. Rather than the boring- yet highly effective small occurences such as the door creaking and the keys on the floor in the first one, there is the dog being killed and the scratched writing on the inside of the basement door. I also was quite happy with the noise they added whenever the demon was present in the room. Christie’s being paranoid was also effective, but frustrating. Thats my opinion. No haters please. :)

    • Yeah, I liked the weird sort of rumbling just before something happened. I liked how they didn’t use music at all. That rumbling noise was just enough to build up tension.

    • That noise they added when the demon was present came directly from the first movie.

  20. to all who say that just because you couldnt buy into it, was because it really wasnt authentic footage. watch snuff 102 or any foreign fake snuff film. those movies are directors who made “fake” snuff films, but makes looks entirely real. there was one movie i watched that had no credits or opening or anything, and if you saw that vhs on the street, youd think it was a real snuff film

  21. I was waiting to see Para2 like a child waits for Christmas morning, and finally got to go tonight! and OHHHH was I disappointed. It took forever for anything to happen, and there was only one scene that got the “jumps” out of me (kitchen). I was very sad with this production. they could have done so much better. Definitely not worth the money it cost to go see it. :( total let down.

    • well it was totaly worth the money.. it acctually took less time to start everything. it was a awesome movie.. especialy the part were there n the basement were hunter is.. now that was totally unexpected that was the scaryest part of the movie in my opinoin

    • really paranormal activity was one of the scariest movies ive ever seen… that was the good part the waiting for things to get bad because it built suspense.

    • ***WARNING – THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS***

      I agree that this movie was quite a letdown, and not nearly as good as the first. I had several issues with it, including the fact that a LOT of the trailer clips didn’t even make it into the film (Hunter out in street, Katie standing in the doorway in Hunter’s room, the picture falling off the wall, things being thrown around in the room while they filmed, Hunter’s room being ransacked like the rest of the house).

      Also, though I enjoyed seeing more of Katie and would like to see much more of her in the future, the original movie really did not need a ‘prequel’ or anymore explanation. They could have very easily come up with a story that didn’t involve the previous movie at all and still involved Katie, since she did ‘disappear’ at the end of the first movie, at least in one ending.

    • they claim to say this is a true story – if it is its super sad as
      Katie is dead and Hunter’s soul is with demons. This s*** happens man
      I should know i WAS possessed and got out of it. But Hunter did not stand a chance remember he was promised to them in exchange for riches for the
      family.

      • Laurie they say its based on a true story. That means 99% can be false but as long as 1% is from that true story then it’s based on it.

      • P.S. I’ve said plenty of times how I’d sell my soul for something and nothing ever came to collect or give me that item. People worship Satan but hes not using their bodys to possessed. So I believe you were possessed by your brain washing church or wherever you go.

    • I agree totally. The film as a horror was dreadful. Throughout the film minor things happen causing no cause for alarm really, but regularly making me and my friends laugh out loud in the cinema. There were far too many opportunities for jokes throughout the film and all in all, the only places that made me jump were the kitchen and the the basement section (the latter was slightly predictable anyway.) The problem with these films is that a whole load of the film is unnecessary; Why would a demon need to bother shaking a light fitting when clearly SPOILER ALERT!! It can possess someone then walk into the house and break a neck and fling someone into a camera. The reason it flopped was due to the fact that the unnecessary parts took away from the realism of the film. All in all, i laughed more in this film than i do in some average comedies, and the only tricks it has are basic jumpy moments and people hiding off screen with pieces of string pulling doors open. SPOILER ALERT!! RIP dog, you will be missed most of all…

      • Smileyman,

        Um, the movie didn’t “flop” – far from it. It actually broke a couple of records and made about 15X its production budget on opening weekend.

        That’s about as far from “flop” as you can get.

        Vic

  22. Whatever. Paranormal Activity 2 was awesome.

  23. i could say this paranormal activity 2 was the better than the first and it scared the heck of me i advice people just to see it!!

  24. I really didn’t like this movie as it really didnt make a whole load of sense.

    In the first one there were 3 endings, 2 of which she dies in. The only ending that I actually seen while watching part one was the ending where the cops kill her. The other two I youtubed. I just feel let down in the fact the makers must take us for idiots. Almost like there trying to pass this off on us because the great job the first one did. The rest of the movie is creative,but could have been more thought out character wise.

    5 out of 10

    • Does anybody know if this is a real story.

      • heyaa no this isnt a real story but it is based on actual events that have happened

    • what cops? what movie did you see. Katie was possessed and took Hunter to
      the demons – end of story. Katie will eventually be killed by the demons
      and they get Hunter’s soul. This has been going forever – part of
      witchcraft, santaria, voodoo, etc.

      • They’re talking about the original ending to PA1. You can find it on-line somewhere, just google it. I honestly preferred that ending to the theatrical one. Too bad it wasn’t included on the DVD.

  25. hi…i never watched the first film…im confused as to who is who… what is the wife called? who is katie? I was told i didnt need to watch the first to get the 2nd…….

    • YOU have to rent the first movie to fully understand this movie. Katie is the sister of the mother of Hunter and a long time ago their grandmother made a deal with the devil that the devil can take the first male born inexchange for full lives full of riches in the family. The mother of Katie and her sister died (went crazy) and now the devil – demon wants this
      male child and went after Hunter’s mom but failed as the housekeeper blessed
      the house and the mother so it went for the weaker link – katie to get to
      the baby. I presume Katie is now dead and the baby’s soul is with the demons. If you are into the occult all this makes sense. I understand all this perfectly…

  26. bit like blair witch project…lots of suspense but doesnt really lead to much…. few scary bits and you do wait expecting but not worth being described as a scary movie.
    Very confusing as I walked out not knowing who actually killed everyone and what everyone was called…can some one enlighten me please.

    • easy – Katie Killed everyone – she was possessed by the demon – killing
      her husband Micha first then went for the dog then the brother in law then
      killing her sister. She then took the baby to the demons where his soul
      will be cherished by the demons. Read up on your demonolgy and you will
      understand that small babies especially males are the most precious to demons.

      • The dog died before Micha, the demon killed the dog. What un possessed Kristi? The cross? What happened to the maid?

  27. All i can say is that they are gonna make a lot of money from this movie that costs peanuts compared to what it will bring in. Most of us fear
    the unknown and are thirsty for answers………..
    If you believe in demons and possessions this a film for you to catch.
    If it was a work of fiction or reality it plays on your mind for a long time after you
    finally get up from your chair, go for a quick pee, and leave the theater.
    All demons, ghosts, paranormals, aliens, etc. are only found on earth. In The
    Afterlife there is no hell or anything negative. If you wanna know more -
    contact me.

    • other life and demons are two different things. Also “aliens” exist on other planets there are billion stars and the fact that were the only ones who are living in the universe is just plain ignorant.

      • Iplaynaked,

        Get off your high horse. Because there are billions of planets you state without doubt there are “aliens” but with the vastness of the universe you can’t make room for anything spiritual?

        If you’re going by the odds to state there are aliens (like it’s a fact, when there’s no proof) then don’t get on others about God.

        Vic

  28. Laurie – I need to speak with you. I have an infant son and I believe my house has a demon in it. After reading your posts, I would like to speak with you.

    • Why do u think there is a demon in your house ?? Have u notice anything different in your baby ?

      • demons do not just come into your house just like that – they need to be summoned and/or made a deal with and they come and collect. Remember -
        evil spirits, demons, witches, sorcerers, vampires, jinns – all have to be welcomed first or made a deal with in order for them to take you. Ever see the movie DRAG ME TO HELL – see the movie and see the real reason the curse was after her…..

    • sure jessica how can i get in touch with you – got an email i can email you with? Any help i can offer i would be greatful to give it. I know a lot about these things trust me.

    • sure Jessica anything I can help you with I will – any email i can reach you with?

  29. The Paranormal Activity movies are good, but they aren’t real-just movies. Google it and you will find all kinds of articles on how the director came up with the concept and the movie was even filmed at his home. He is actually afraid of ghosts, demons, etc, which is kind of funny to me. If you don’t believe in demons or hauntings or possessions, you might think the movies are silly, but they are a welcomed change from all of the gore and violence in most horror movies. And if you are like me, you maybe sleeping with the light on for a few days after you see it :)

    • Leah you fear the unexplained – i also believe in aliens – billions of stars surely we are not the only human intelligence on the planet. Fear what you must but do not fear death as death is only the beginning. If you believe in forever than life is just a one night stand. We also made our
      life charts before we were born on this earth and if you wrote down you want to experience something evil like a demon, or evil spirit – you will.
      I went through an evil spirit – lasted 10 months – trust me it was hell.

      • Laurie, you is crazy. There are no such things as demons, goblins, vampires, or any of that other stuff. These are stories invented by superstitious pagans hundreds of years ago who were afraid of the dark. If you were “possessed by an evil spirit” it was probably some mental condition you had. Why do demons need to be “invited” or have “deals”? These are rules invented by pagans to scare kids and conveniently explain why we never see these things in broad daylight or when we are in groups of 20 people when the evidence would be unassailable. Laurie, stay on your medication crazy girl.

        • dear john,

          EVIDENCE time and time again proves there is existence of evil spirits – most possess serial killers – they are the ones you should watch for
          since you don’t believe in anything else.

          Its fine if you don’t believe – most don’t but never ever become
          racist towards believers.

        • one last thing John Dixon – if you are such a non believer in the
          occult and witches, demons, sorcerers, and evil spirits – why are
          you wasting your money going to see movies like Paranormal Activity
          and also wasting your precious time reading our comments seems you
          have a lot of time to waste in your perfect world of non-believers.

          • OK, let’s stop both the religion bashing and the proselytizing.

            Thanks,

            Vic

            • jessica, for some reason i emailed you back and i got the email back – please try again but with your email not screenrant

              • Should I try to email you? I don’t know why the email would come back to you? Well, crap. I didn’t type my email correctly. jmpatterson55@yahoo.com. Sorry about that.