Sequels are always a tough thing to get right. When its a prequel/sequel for a 'found footage' ghost film, then damn...they have a lot of work to do to make it fit. Fortunately, "Paranormal Activity 2" pulls off some well laid plans to actually make it work as a prequel/sequel with some clever story twists to make it better than expected. To its fault, the expectations were very low and it wasn't even close to blowing them out of the water.
Katie (Featherston) and Micah (Sloat) weren't the first ones to be haunted by the mysterious ghost-ish demon. Turns out its Katie's sister and her family that were haunted/terrorized first. After the birth of their first son together, Kristi (Grayden) and Dan (Boland) start experiencing some seriously weird phenomenon in their house. It would seem like a ghost/demon of sorts has a bone to pick with them. I guess they should...well...sort of...you know...figure something out...or something. And uh. Yeah. Did you see "Paranormal Activity"? Same diff.
Despite some very worthy attempts at creating a further expanding "Paranormal Activity" universe by extending some of the subtle hints and plot elements of the first film, "Paranormal Activity 2" is basically rehash. Although this wouldn't normally be such a bad thing (the first one was surprisingly fresh and interesting), but it lacks the surprise and grasp on the 'real feel' that the original one did. It lacks the jump scares. It lacks the atmosphere. It lacks the mystery. Because WE HAVE SEEN IT BEFORE. It doesn't do enough to make it new. Thusly we get the same rehashed scare tactics but with less enthusiasm. So what if we have a dog and baby now? So what if we have more camera angles? It's all gimmicks in the end and doesn't recapture the feel that made the first one more than a low budget horror flick.
What expansion it does with the story is nice though. Seeing as its a prequel for 4/5 of the film (Note the addition of "2" in the title when its not really a sequel and the irritation it creates in me. End note.) it does its best to create more mystery and add more subtle attempts at deepening the reasons for this occurrence. It works for the most part and the addition of having Katie and Micah reprise their roles was nice. Other than that though, its pretty much same old same old here.
"Paranormal Activity 2" was better than I expected, but far from being the prequel/sequel that it could have been. They were going to be walking a fine line to begin with for this film and unfortunately they couldn't quite pull it off. It still has its moments and as a rental it was an interesting way to spend the evening, but not necessarily worth the hype it inherited.
Written By Matt Reifschneider