Paranormal Activity 2 Review

Published 5 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:

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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

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  1. KESH

    The second movie explained everything and if you read between the lines it
    has a lot more meaning and is a lot more scary than the first. The demon tried to possess the mother of Hunter to get Hunter and when it failed it went after Katie – Katie had no protection. The maid and her religious beliefs helped the family but failed Katie – remember once a pact is made with the
    demon it will always come back to collect i.e. Hunter……..

  2. Well, I just saw “Paranormal Activity 2″ yesterday. It was crazy! I loved it. It had me jumping, laughing, and crying at the same time. Wow, I was the only one to enjoy it out of 3 of my friends. I’ve never seen the first one, but word goes around that the second one is the best!

  3. this is the worse movie i have seen in a long time. i have no idea how my friend watched it 3 times, once was bad enough. yes, the movie did make sense but just because a movie makes sense it doesnt mean the movie is good. the second one totally let down the first one. it was the most boring thing ever! the movie room was full and the start of the movie and within 30 minutes everyone had walked out apart from me and my 3 other friends. the movie was a waste of my life and i wish i could get my minutes of life back. it was pointless, i mean what sort of evil ghost thingy takes a pool cleaner out of the pool?! what the hell was that meant to do?! ohh yeah thats right it did nothing. i didnt even notice that it was happening at first. the movie is shocking and should have NEVER been made!!!

  4. also if it wanted the baby why didnt it just take ?! it had like million chances to, why go through the mom to get it! just take the damned baby.

  5. Excuse me but you’re a non-believer in evidence, evolution, and science.

  6. @Marcus

    Going in a group sucks every bit of atmosphere out of the film. You’re either too busy chatting to enjoy it or making jokes to cover your own fears from your mates.

    That’s why I went to see both movies on my own at a morning showing (more chance I’ll be alone). Let me tell you – they are so much worse when you’re alone.

  7. charles

    A demon cannot just take the baby – it has to be given the baby by the
    possessed person – don’t you watch any horror movie at all….

    its not a real story anyway – just let it go through your imagination.

  8. Watched PA2 two nights ago but was dissapointed. I really enjoyed getting totally spooked by the first film and how it left me second guessing every creaking door when I got home but PA2 had no such affect. I thought the progressivily more voilent nature of the hauntings in PA1 and the way they were built up to reveal the demonic entity responsible was done better than in PA2. Some of the plot and characterisation in PA2 is more akin to a conventional haunting horror flick, which has been done in countless other movies, and took away from the cleverly developed realism the first movie was able to convey.

  9. A lot of ya’ll have valid points. Most of it was lame and kinda pointless but i like that it explained why it targeted Katie and Micha. It was fun and made me jump a few times. yes, it also left a lot of unanswered questions but thats what it was meant to do. we all have our opinions and they will be different. if you dont like the movie, fine. but why ruin it for those of us that enjoyed it?

  10. That film just robbed me of 90 mins of my life that I will never get back. Terrible from start to finish !

  11. warning might be some spoilers…

    …really? This movie was okay, nothing special. Some really enjoy the handy-cam movie. I have no problem with the handy-cam but the only people who enjoyed this movie were the ones who are able to work themselves up throughout the movie “somethings gonna happen, OMG!” and “you know nothing about demonology.” The “demons” power seems to fluctuate too often, first the husband can fight it off. then it’s strong enough to snap someone’s neck and blast someone across the room. Secondly, it really seemed unfocused, first it just wants to “scare” everyone next it’s dragging people down stairs, does it have ADHD or something? It also makes no sense how it didn’t go after the girl especially if the father was also a target.

    • well, TH, demons feed off of negative energy. It depends on the nervousness of the people and the arguments they have. The more negative energy, the more powerful the demon. and at the end, the negative energy given to the demon by Katie and Micah was the driving force of the demon, you may not have noticed this, but that’s energy that matured over a few months time.

  12. If these were generous filmakers they would have given all this as a DVD extra for the first one. No they wont get a zillion dollars but wouldnt you feel ya got a deal on that dvd? It belongs as a Extra not a feature film. It should prime us for the next feature where questions are answered and hopefully that sob demon is sent back to hell. Sometimes it starts to lok like Blair Witch, they got the dough so maybe next time some standard camera work.

  13. i just saw paranormal activity 2 and i really enjoyed it. I have never seen the first one but hear things like the first one took forever to get going and that this 2nd one has more people and more things going on than the first one. Its a movie, for entertainment! 5 stars in my opinion.

  14. OK, this movie is amazing. While yes the beginning was boring, the end had me hiding behind a pillow. to those of you who say its boring its because you were with a group watch it in the dark in a hotel rom at night holy crap its awesome. I hated the nights because the suspense of the video cameras was priceless, when the dog died it kept you guessing even more. The ending amaazing 5 stars totes

  15. How exactly do you ‘make a deal’ with a demon? :S

    • Making a deal with a demon is easy – all you have to do is join a satanic
      cult and slowly sell your soul to Satan and voila your deal is sealed.
      Gee I almost made one – so glad I never went through with it.

      • So who in the movie done this?

      • and … what deal?

  16. Andy,

    Did you not hear the sister talk about their Grandmother – its the
    grandmother that made a deal with the demon – Riches and wonderful health
    to her daughter and grandaughters – as long as there was no male child. She did not stop to think that one of the grandaughters could have a baby boy. The Granny died and a male child was born so the demon came to collect by possessing the weakest link – the aunt. Note that to a demon
    a male baby under 2 is very precious to him more than a girl. Dont you know your demonology………..

    • No I don’t know my demonology, hence why I was asking.

  17. This film was nothing but jump cuts and jump shocks, actually. The noises were louder and we actually saw the demonic presence this time out (couch scene involving Ali), so that really tosses out the notion of subtlety that made the first film so terrific.

    Anyone who was “guessing” as to how the dog died hasn’t seen many movies.

    • Its a movie right – and that is all it was. But the story is very well made you see the demon tried to get to the housekeeper but she had protection – so the demon tried the mother – but the mother had the protection the housekeeper gave her. The father was hardly around to get to him and the daughter the demon tried to kill if she came back into the house but the parents came home. The dog was easy to kill for the demon so the only weak link was the other sister who had no protection. She killed her boyfriend and then went to get the baby boy (a demons most prized possession) for deliverance to the demon. The grandmother is at fault here as it was she who made a pact with the demon – all the riches and great life in exchange for a soul (a soul of the first male child) she had 2 daughters SO little DID she know that one of her daughters one day would have a male child – hey demons wait forever what else do they have to do. FUN HUH….

  18. I did like it but you can clearly see its a fake. why well look at when the nanny is starts hearing noises. In the island there is a cutting board with some vegetables. then she goes to get the baby and strats her ritual. when she goes back to the kitchen there is nothing in the island but when the father comes home and makes her put it out again the cutting board and vegetables are back in the island.

  19. i

    • WOW the demon waited 80 years to come and collect the first male child -
      i guess demons dont forget.

  20. What a pathetic movie. It wasn’t scary at all. Both of them were just a waste of time and money.

  21. I do not understand the people who say it isn’t scary or made no sense. I thought the addition of the dog, baby and teenage daughter made it almost unbearable to watch. I’m not sure I can sit through it again in fact, unlike the first which I’ve seen several times. Speaking of the first film, I thought it dovetailed nicely with it. One of the few really worthy sequels, I think.

  22. Wow, this was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I never watched the first one, thank goodness. I found it to be long and drawn out. I thought it would be scary but I found nothing scary about it.

  23. Hmm what can I say…

    I enjoyed PA-1 extremely… but PA-2… what a let down.

    Sorry for all those that loved #2, for me, it was just a major let down in every way.

    Yes I understood it.
    Yes I got it.
    Yes I know it ties in with the first one and I know who what when and why.

    But still, it’s a major let down.

    Nothing much of interest really happens and then they decide to turn it from a ghost to a demon, like that is supposed to make me more interested.

    For me, it felt like they were just milking it for the money, and let’s face it, they were. The first one was great, and they thought, hey, we can milk this and make some more money and even throw in a twist that it wraps around to the first one. *yawn*

    Sorry guys, try harder next time.

    If there is a PA-3, I don’t think I’ll be bothering.

    Let me re-iterate: I loved PA-1 and do completely understand PA-2.

    My thoughts for those who haven’t seen either. If you want a half decent scare, PA-1 all the way. If you want a yawn-fest, PA-2.

    • Maz

      I disagree with you as this was never a ghost – it always was referred to as a Demon. It was a pact that their grandmother made. You bet they will make a third i wanna know where Katie takes Hunter. I know this story is fiction but this sort of thing happens man – lots of devil cults all over the place – I should know I was approached by one and lived its dark consequences…

      • Devil, demoon, ghost, whatever…. point is, for me, PA2 was a snore-fest compared to the first one.

        • *demon* typo.

          There were a couple of good scenes for me, like the dog being dragged off and all the cupboards opening at once… but for me, over all, I was bored and I actually laughed in a couple of scenes. Things that were meant to be freaky I just found out right funny. I don’t remember laughing like that in the first one. I remember being scared in the first one.

          Any hoo, to each their own. I’m sure there will be a following for this and they will milk it for as long as possible, especially with the extreme amounts of profit being made. They can show you the same camera with nothing happening on it for 45 minutes and then at the end maybe a shadow move or a door move and people will still go see it.

          I watched another film too, which I didn’t mind at all, ‘Paranormal Entity’ was what it was called. That too was pretty freaky. So those who liked these type of films will probably like that too. =)

          • Also, Katie takes Hunter.

            So… it’s a demon. It wants the first born’s soul.

            Katie is possessed and Hunter ‘should’ be dead by now.

            What other options are there?

            It we see a possessed girl trying to raise the baby as it’s own, I’ll laugh even more.

            • Damn typos *if*

              I was thinking, as I get ready for work, what other possible options are there.

              They could do a continuation and show Hunter being possessed… and growing up as a demon child, maybe even renaming himself to Damien and starring on the Omen trilogy.

              Nah… I wouldn’t by that for a sequel.

              So they could do a prequel or two.

              They could do a prequel of the two sisters back with mummy and daddy, and they could show us strange things happening in the house and as they talk more about it, it gets worse…

              Nah, they’ve pretty much told us what happened to them as children in this movie, we don’t really need a movie showing us do we? I guess some might want one, but do we really need one?

              They could do a prequel of how a family back in the days gone by, struggling to make ends meet, life is so bad and hard that they make a deal with a demon to exchange their first born for a better life. Again, do we really need it? We know that is what happened as that was what was told to us. Some may want to see that, but my question is, do we really need a movie showing it?

              They could even do another side step and expand the family. They could show us a random family or two being haunted and then killed off but before they die, they could say, hey here’s our twist, these guys are cousins of the families you’ve been watching and are actually the security camera installers you saw in number 2. Would people accept that? Probably would.

              I just keep throwing things in my head about possible stories and if they are really needed and I cannot think of one that I would want to go see. I think they presented us with a full story and I accept that the baby hunter is going to die or is dead. I don’t need to see any more about it.

              I would go see a totally different family that is unrelated to this story being haunted though. I like haunted paranormal stories. I am probably getting over the whole present as fact camera gimmick though.

              In any case, we will of course see more of these things for as long as they can be milked. I guess I was just hoping for separate haunting type films without them having to attempt to connect them. …who knows, I may actually like PA3. I know someone will eventually lend it to me and I’ll watch it. It’s just a shame that PA2 disappointed me so much. :(

              Sorry about all the posts laurie, just things going through my head about the movie. =)

  24. Maz

    You wanna rent a real scary movie rent THE ENTITY with Barbara Hershey -
    now that is scary. Its about an entity that littlerly rapes her
    over and over again – but remember there is nobody there. Check it out.
    I own it on VHS imagine..

    • Yes the Entity is an absolutely amazing movie. Very scary stuff.

      Recommend that to anyone who loves these types of movies.

    • Laurie, I’m 35.

      Have seen and own those too. Wishmaster and Warlock. Actually have the sequels too but like PA (for me), the originals are the best.

      Julian Sands is a God when it comes to playing a Demon.

      I don’t really want to discuss why we are here on Earth (no offense at all, I’m sure it will be an interesting discussion), I just wanted to say that I was totally disappointed by PA2 and won’t be running out to see PA3, but absolutely did love PA1 and the other movies you mentioned. =)

  25. Maz,

    We like the same movies then – I have an entire horror collection. Check out Hostel 1 and 2, the Amityville House Movies. The all time classic The Exorcist. When I was pregnant – 25 years ago i quit the bank and I rented one horror movie a day for 9 months. I think I must have watched every horror movie that came out. Yes the First Jason and Michael Myers movie were the best. Try Surviving the Game – very interesting movie.
    It was nice sharing with you.