Horror Movie Month: "Paranormal Activity 2" Review

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A parallel prequel to the 2007 film Paranormal Activity, beginning two months before and following up with the events depicted in the original film.
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Horror Movie Month: "Paranormal Activity 2" Review

Rating: R (some language and brief violence)
Length: 91 minutes
Release Date: October 22, 2010
Directed by: Tod Williams
Genre: Horror

After the extraordinary success of "Paranormal Activity," it was no surprise to see a follow-up film made. Film company Paramount Pictures made a huge return on its investment for the first installment, so it made sense to make at least another to meet enormous consumer demand. However, unlike most sequels, "Paranormal Activity 2" is actually a prequel, with the events of the film taking place a few weeks before those of the original. For fans of the franchise, this gives them the chance to fill in some gaps that may have left them wondering after viewing "Paranormal Activity."

Oren Peli performed a stellar job as director of the original film, but Paramount and Dreamworks decided to move Peli into the role of producer and hire a new director who could offer something different. Screenwriter Michael R. Perry was given the task of penning a script; however, it took a little longer to finally lock in a director for the film. The film studio initially pursued the director of "Saw VI," Kevin Greutert. However, a clause in his contract with Lions Gate Entertainment meant that he could not take on the role because he was obliged to direct the last film of the "Saw" film franchise. Unable to secure its first choice, Paramount decided to hire Tod Williams. Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat were brought back to reprise their roles as Katie and Micah respectively; however, they were not included in the main cast, with new roles created for other actors instead. Sprague Grayden and Brian Boland signed up to play a young married couple, Kristi and Daniel. Kristi also happens to be Katie's younger sister.

Set in August of 2006, the opening scene shows that a burglary has occurred in the home of Kristi and Dan. Although the place is a mess, the only item taken was a necklace that Katie had given to her sister. In response to this, Dan decides to set up security cameras throughout the house so that he can catch the next intruder in the act. Before long, the footage from the recordings shows some mysterious occurrences. Katie is convinced that the house is haunted, but Dan dismisses her fears.

When the family dog is attacked, Dan and his daughter take the German shepherd for treatment. Kristi is left alone with the couple's young son, Hunter. While checking on him, Kristi is dragged down to the basement by a demon and is held there for an hour. A couple of days later, Dan and his daughter witness Kristi acting very strangely and figure that she has been possessed by a demon. Dan wants to call an exorcist to extract the demon and pass it onto Katie. Later that night, Dan attempts to use a cross to rid the demon from Kristi; however, she escapes to the basement with their young son, Hunter. Dan chases her down to the basement and uses the cross to subdue the demon.

The plot then jumps ahead three weeks to show some of the opening scene of "Paranormal Activity." Micah is killed by Katie, who then murders Dan and Kristi in their own home. Katie takes Hunter and then disappears, never to be seen again.

Before its release, "Paranormal Activity 2" did attract some controversy when a trailer was pulled from some Texas theaters. Viewers complained that the trailer was too frightening. In order to drum up interest in the film, the producers gave away free tickets to people who lived in the top twenty cities to demand the film.

"Paranormal Activity 2" opened to mixed reviews, with many quick to say that the pace of the film was too slow during the first few scenes. Other film critics praised the film for being one of the scariest of all time, with nail-biting suspense throughout. Like the original, movie audiences quickly took to this film. "Paranormal Activity 2" broke the record for largest midnight gross for an R-rated film, and it also received the biggest opening for a horror movie ever. The film opened at number one at the box office and went on to record $84 million in revenue domestically as well as $92 million in revenue in combined overseas markets. Even though the budget for this film, $5 million, was more than ten times that of the original, it was still considered a huge success due to the strong viewing numbers that it pulled in. Overall, "Paranormal Activity 2" is a great prequel to the first film, but be warned that it is not for the faint of heart.

Rating 3 out of 5