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With: Brian Boland, Sprague Grayden, Molly Ephraim, Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat
Written by: Michael R. Perry, Christopher Landon, Tom Pabst, based on characters by Oren Peli
Directed by: Tod Williams
MPAA Rating: R for some language and brief violent material
Running Time: 91
Date: 10/20/2010

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Demon Attack

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For the sequel to 2009's massive indie hororr hit, veteran writer Michael R. Perry and director Tod Williams (The Door in the Floor) take over for original creator Oren Peli (he was a producer this time around). They maintain the style and tone of the original film: The terror remains offscreen and mostly in the imagination of the viewers, more psychological than gory. From that perspective, it's very effective and intense, creating tension with small things like an open door or a spinning mobile over a child's crib.

Two months before the events of Paranormal Activity, Katie's sister, Kristi (Sprague Grayden), brings home her new baby boy, Hunter. Her proud husband, Dan (Brian Bolden), has a teen daughter, Abby (Molly Ephraim), from a previous marriage; Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) occasionally visit. One day the family discovers that an unseen intruder has ransacked the house, without stealing anything. Dan sets up several surveillance cameras, and they begin to capture the increasingly creepy events in the house, which range from loud noises to falling frying pans to more sinister occurrences. The family dog, which has taken to sleeping in Hunter's room, suddenly collapses from an "attack" one night, and even Hunter is pulled out of his crib by unseen forces. Things get worse when Kristi becomes the source of the attacks, forcing Dan to make a tough decision.

This time out, the characters in Paranormal Activity 2 seem less powerful, though there's an interesting family dynamic going on. And unlike the first film, the demon attacks are somewhat motivated here, which negates the feeling of irrational terror inspired by the first movie -- and actually explains some of the irrational terror of the first film. The sequel has an intriguing filmic quality as well, given that there are six surveillance cameras here, as opposed to just one in the first film, giving the impression of an unseen third party as editor. The cuts from camera to camera are deliberate, rather than random; this brings a spooky feeling of inevitability lacking in the first film.

Regardless, for a sequel, the movie cooks up a clever idea and it definitely delivers in the spooky department.

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