Katie and her wacky family of the damned are back. Brace yourselves for opening and closing doors, mysterious footprints, and more evil shenanigans — it's Paranormal Activity 2. But is it scarier than the first? Spoilers below.
The main characters of this sequel are still directly tied to the original duo from the first movie, Katie and Micah. In fact, you could say that this movie is a bit of an "origin story", but more on that later. PA2 follows Katie's sister Kristi, her one-year-old son Hunter, her husband Daniel, and his adorable teenage daughter from another marriage. The family dynamic actually makes this particular film a little bit more interesting, there are little squabbles, tangled backstories and eventual team-picking, simply thanks to the larger number of people on screen. It manages to make the "we enjoy spending free time in our pool" stuff a wee-bit more interesting. Plus I really loved the little step-daughter — she's a pretty tremendous actress and completely steals the movie.
The entire story takes place about 60 days before the original film (give or take), a fact that PA2 glee-fully tells you by plastering their white font right over Micah's face. So yes, both Katie and Micah are in the film, which is exceptionally confusing, until that helpful face-text shows up. But they are by no means the main characters. This movie is all about the sister's family and their haunted cul-de-sac of horrors.
So how is it that BOTH of the sisters are haunted by demons in this family? Turns out someone in the family (many, many years ago) made a deal with the Devil for fame or fortune, and the price for this deal was the families' first born son. Well no one in the family has had a son until now, many moons later. Basically the Devil is rumpelstiltskinning baby Hunter. We learn this information via a website that the step-daughter finds. Thank goodness that very helpful website is there to clear up any
demon questions for this sequel.
But honestly, who really goes to this film for story telling and character depth? You go to see Paranormal Activity 2 to have some half-demon person jump out of the night vision and make you spill your popcorn all over your lap. The scares are the most important thing about a sequel to PA. And you know what? They were all right.
Is the sequel as scary as the original? No. But it still has a few classic scare scenes. One particular kitchen scare happens right in the middle of the day — and keep your eyes peeled on the shadows, which have a tendency to menace guests sleeping on the couch. Sadly, there aren't enough original scares in the sequel to allow this film to stand on its own. This time around, there's too much origin-story explaining and not enough creepy shit. As scary as this scene is, we've seen it all before in the original, when it was fresh!
All of my issues aside, I still had fun. It's Halloween after all, and sometimes it's just fun to get scared. So even though it lacks a lot of original scare fodder, it gets by on a few quality screams in the end. I'll admit the filmmakers had me covering my eyes during the incredibly annoying shaky-cam climax, so I can't argue that I wasn't into it. So go see it, and get scared — it's fun. But know this, if you haven't seen the original, there's no way you'll be invested in these characters enough to care when the demon pots start falling in their kitchen.