Personally, I thought Paranormal Activity 2 to be just a little bit disappointing. For one thing, it’s not the sequel it claims to be; instead, it’s about three-quarters prequel and one-quarter sequel. And while I get that they wanted to revisit the formula that made the first movie a success, I feel that they didn’t move the plot forward enough to make the movie a completely satisfying experience.
Paranormal Activity 2 is the “how we got here” story to the original. It follows Katie’s sister, Kristi; Kristi’s husband, Dan; Dan’s daughter from his first marriage, Ali; and Kristi and Dan’s son, Hunter as their lives are upset by the titular paranormal activity, and the bulk of the story takes place in the two or three months before Micah’s death in the first movie.
So on the one hand, the story of 2 provides some interesting background and context for the first movie; on the other hand, it changed the mythology (or, if you prefer, revealed more of the mythology) in a way that I feel significantly changed the story of the first movie.
See, in Paranormal Activity, Katie was the central character. When she was eight, she would wake up at night to find a shadowy figure standing at the foot of her bed, watching her as she slept. Her sister would also see it, but the figure would always be at the foot of Katie’s bed. The haunting recurred when she was a young teenager, and then again when she was an adult. The demon specifically planted a picture of Katie in the attic of the house. The demon whispered Katie’s name at night. The story made it very clear that the demon wanted Katie.
The additional mythology added in Paranormal Activity 2, however, makes Kristi and her son Hunter the most important characters, and I’ll admit that I found that annoying. When the first movie so heavily implied that Katie had been the haunted one from the beginning, why the sudden shift to her sister? It put the entire plot of the original movie in such a vastly different light that I honestly felt a bit retroactively disappointed in the original; to me, the mythology my imagination constructed was superior than what the writers delivered. Alas.
In terms of scares, however, the 2 was much the same as the movie that preceded it. The first act is comprised of a lot of rather pointless banter between characters and a few minor hints of some ghostly goings on, and then we get into the other stuff. The pool cleaner that mysteriously get taken out of the pool every night. The invisible something that the baby and dog keep watching. The door that slams and locks itself. Basically, scenes that attempt to rebuild the atmosphere of the first movie.
There is one good scene that startled the crap out of me, and it’s a rather infamous jump scare. If you’ve heard anything about this movie, you’ve probably heard about this scene. If you haven’t, I won’t spoil it for you. Just be sure not to watch it with a full-to-bursting bladder or anything like that, because you might just have a problem.
Basically, if you liked the first Paranormal Activity, you’ll want to give this one a try. It expands on the mythology and progresses the plot forward just enough to pique one’s interest in where the story will go next, all while delivering much of the same elements as the original.
And if you hated Paranormal Activity… Well, why bother?