Sequel brings more Paranormal frights

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The Spectrum

Movie: Paranormal Activity 2

Release Date: Oct. 22

Grade: B-

After the biggest breakout horror hit of the last five years, Paranormal Activity 2 attempts to follow in the freaky footsteps of the original.

The much-anticipated sequel brings the audience more spooky scares but leaves it wanting more.

Paranormal Activity 2 doesn't deviate much from the storyline of the original: a family is tormented by what it believes is a paranormal presence in its home.

There are some additions, however, as the family expands to include a baby and a dog, and the film does establish an interesting connection to the first film.

The plot centers on a suburban family that experiences what it believes to be a series of break-ins. The house is ransacked, but nothing is stolen. As a result, the family installs a series of surveillance cameras to capture the strange and sinister events that begin to take place.

As the events become more intense and ominous, the family begins to suspect an evil presence may be at work.

With a higher budget and more experienced director (Tod Williams, Wings Over the Rockies) for the sequel, the film boasts more characters and larger-scale scares.

However, bigger doesn't always mean better. Paranormal Activity was so terrifying because it worked on a smaller scale to create a more intimate, creepy atmosphere that fed on the viewer's most primal fears.

The scares in Paranormal Activity were limited to doors opening and closing, footsteps thumping, and lights flickering, which created an intimacy that the sequel, unfortunately, does not possess. The audience sees too much of what happens in the house, and this works to the film's detriment. Paranormal Activity 2 loses all of the mystery that was so terrifying in the original.

The use of the surveillance cameras works both for and against the film. Though the cameras welcome a break from the dizzying effects of the shaky footage in the original, they also cause the film to lose its realistic feel. Paranormal Activity 2 seems much more like a movie and much less like a documentary than the original.

The film does, however, do a good job of slowly building up tension as it reaches its terrifying climax. The pacing of this film is so slow that it borders on boring; everything that happens in the entire film is a buildup to the last 15 minutes.

Paranormal Activity 2 has a much more climactic ending than that of its predecessor, but, like the original, it leaves the viewers with many questions and opens the possibility of another sequel.

The cast does a good job of establishing the realism that these films are working toward. The use of Hunter, the baby, provides a focus for the film, as viewers dread what harm might come to this innocent toddler.

The increase in the number of characters also detracts from the first film's intimacy. Much of what made the original so unsettling was the sense of closeness that was created by the two main characters, which doesn't happen in the sequel.

Viewers won't find themselves identifying with these characters as closely as they did with Micah (Micah Sloat, Paranormal Activity) and Katie (Katie Featherston, Paranormal Activity) in Paranormal Activity, simply because they aren't examined as closely.

The return of Katie as the sister of the film's protagonist, Kristi, is a nice way to dovetail the two films together. In fact, Paranormal Activity 2 is much more of a prequel than a sequel, as the viewer is given many insights into the first film while being presented with new questions from the second.

While it brings much of the same spooky entertainment, fans of the original may have mixed feelings regarding Paranormal Activity 2. It has several unsettling moments, but for the most part, it lacks the intimacy and originality of the first film.