Review written for the Doncaster Free Press (November, 2010)
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This sentence is a bit dull and…BOO! This sentence is also a bit dull and...BOO! This sentence is also a bit….well you get the idea. But if you found that frightening and you also enjoy extended periods of tedium followed by loud sudden shocks, then there’s a chance you may enjoy Paranormal Activity 2, the wearisome prequel to the low-budget surprise hit of 2007. For everyone else however, disappointment is likely.
The story revolves around a seemingly happy family of whom the mother is the sister of the female lead in the original Paranormal Activity. Following a mysterious burglary, video surveillance is installed throughout their house (it is this footage along with hand held home-movie pictures that constitute the film); and then we wait. And wait. And wait some more.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with scenes of normality where little happens. Used effectively these can give bursts of action greater impact and this technique has been used with great success by heavyweight directors such as Kubrick and Hitchcock. Here however it is as if the director has a vague idea of what makes a good horror film, but not realised that the periods of inactivity must serve a purpose. Too often it appears that footage is shown simply for the purpose of filling time
Eventually, after a whole lot of waiting, there’s a shock. And yes, it makes the audience jump. But you could achieve the same effect by forcing a friend to watch dull CCTV footage and randomly bursting a balloon just behind their ear. It’ll give them a start, but it’s not exactly subtle and won’t linger long in the memory.
There’s no real involvement here; it’s difficult to care much about what happens to the characters and none of them say much of any interest. Admittedly the film improves slightly in the last act when the atmosphere becomes more sinister and we lurch towards some sort of conclusion, but by then your attention may have wandered to much better horror films than this. After all, there’s plenty to choose from.