<em>Paranormal Activity 2</em>

Whatever you thought about Paranormal Activity, its main virtue consisted of hewing to the rhythms of classic horror films. It had a little burst of scariness near the beginning, then a long duration of doldrums that built dread, all the while the terror stuff punctuated regularly enough to keep the suspense. This time around, a blended family of four live in a house that’s been mysteriously vandalized. The father, a big smug lug you can’t wait to see dispatched by any available boogey-person, installs security cameras all over the place, setting up our spook documenting process. Meanwhile, the wife’s sister appears and will be familiar to fans of the franchise. Even still, you can’t really call Paranormal Activity 2 a sequel (for reasons I won’t give away).

PA2’s not really scary, minus a few jolts. The rhythm is off this time: the script postpones so much that instead of viewing the “activities” with terror, you can’t wait for them to relieve the tedium. Likewise, the house begins to feel boringly close. PA the first took pain to establish the pointlessness of leaving a haunted scene. In this one it seems laughable to think that any parent with a baby would tolerate the creaking, slamming, and body-lifting entities for more than one bump in the night.

Instead, this film abandons the pretense that we are viewing real footage, diluting the fear factor considerably. The best part is the plot twist. When you realize why the wife’s sister is here, it’s just in time for her story to jump out at you. Then, “boo,” you’ve been had.


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