[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B004EMS0XO][/pullquote] Paranormal Activity was a sensation upon release in 2009. Off a shoe-string budget of $15,000, Oren Peli was able to create a terrifying ˜found footage’ film that drew on the mega-success of The Blair Witch Project and move the horror zeitgeist away from Torture-Porn films like Saw and Hostel. In 2010, the sequel was released, looking to capitalise on the success of the first film, although this time without Peli at the helm and with an increased budget. This strategy worked beautifully and Paranormal Activity 2 earnt the highest opening weekend for a horror film at the box office, and went on to gross $177m worldwide.
A parallel prequel to the original, Paranormal Activity 2 takes place just before the first and ends after, wrapping around the timeline of the first film. In 2006, after a burglary, Kristi (Sprague Graydon) and her husband Dan (Brian Boland) install security cameras as a means of protection. The couple’s maid, begins burning sage around the house to ward off evil spirits and after being quizzed describes the ways in which demons can haunt homes. The couple then begin to notice strange happenings on the video camera while they sleep.
The style and structure is almost identical to the original. The film-makers were obviously aware that this structure was popular and didn’t want to push the boundaries too far, which makes for a slightly predictable viewing experience. The beauty of the original Paranormal Activity was it’s originality and ability to push the limits of a traditional ghost story. The sequel seems content to act as a companion piece rather than anything new.
Paranormal Activity 2 happily brings back the static camera shots at night that are synonymous with the original and these provide the arena for the scares, or which there are plenty. While the story is not as compelling this time around, the cast do a solid job of recreating the naturalistic approach and despite the increased budget, this still feels like an independent horror which, works in its favour.
Sadly it is almost impossible not to compare it to it’s predecessor because it so gratefully clings to it like a road map explaining where to go and what to show. With some risk-taking and invention this might have been as good as the first instalment, unfortunately it’s more of a DVD deleted scenes collection than a film in its own right.