Thursday, 24 March 2011

Paranormal Activity 2


I’ll be honest; I did not rate the first one.

Although I am a huge fan of movies that scare me, make me jump or indeed haunt me late at night, I found all the fuss about Paranormal Activity perhaps the main scare of all.

In the first film I found myself largely bored and had little to no sympathy with the characters. Granted, there were a couple of jumpy moments and the ‘newness’ of the concept was pretty compelling, but given all the time I’d invested in the film I really did find myself wanting so much more. I wanted the film that the adverts promised with all those people collapsing in the cinema with fright. I didn’t get it.

Now you have the backdrop about what I thought of the first, you may be questioning just what has encouraged me to invest the required hour and a half of my life needed to potentially endure number two! A couple of reasons actually, the first one being that people I trust have told me it is worth it, the second is my curiosity about whether this is a fast-turn around money spinner as the studios cash in on the success of the first, or if it is a project that has been treated with time, class and consideration.

Like the first it is a found footage piece. All set in and around a house and following the movements of those who live there. This time around it is a family – Mum, Dad, teenage daughter, baby son, dog and initially a housekeeper. Like the first it is seemingly ‘self shot’ by the cast. Camcorders to start and, after an incident, fixed in-house security cameras adding a new dimension.

Like the first, we quickly recognise that there is something seemingly spooky in the house, closing doors, lights going on and off, pans falling down. The trouble is, we have seen this in the last film and this time it doesn’t have the advantage of being ‘new’.

I’m not going to waste time on spelling out the plot as frankly this is a film that if you decide to see it, will only be because you are hoping for a bit of a fright and it does make an effort with a storyline…so I don’t want to give anything away just in case.

I will say this – it isn’t a bad film, it’s ok. But ultimately it’s dull.

This film is one that to me just doesn’t work to a home audience. This is a film that could and perhaps did thrive in a ‘live’ environment. Late at night in a packed cinema ideally with one or two slightly drunk nervous types sitting close by. That is the arena for this film.

As I sat at home alone watching it I was craving the reactions, jumps, gasps and all round atmosphere a good, full cinema audience can add to a film because to be blunt, this film does not deliver on its own.

I can think of three sequences in the film that I did really enjoy. I won’t go so far as to say I jumped or my heart rate went anywhere near treadmill level, but they were decent moments that ‘saved’ the film for me.

It has been pretty well made. The cast do a decent job. The additions of the dog and the baby certainly up the stakes and add to the spook factor. But the main problem is that it just isn’t frightening!

If you find that this one is gracing your local cinema with a late night showing get your friends, head to a bar a couple of hours before and enjoy. If you are home alone, you will be disappointed, and you won’t be scared.

As I’m going to try and make a habit of giving movies marks out of 10 then I’d say this one romps home with an almost flat line 4/10.


  1. Dear Mr Panda,


    Probably the worst indictment of a horror film you can get. I too was underwhelmed by the first; it had its moments, and showed some promise. Ultimately it was a bit of a damp squib for me. I'm sure it may have been more of an experience in the cinema - but I did watch the first at home, alone and with all the lights off.

    What are the scariest films you have seen, Panda?

    For me, among many, American Werewolf, Alien and (honestly) Event Horizon are some of the better ones.

    GREAT blog, please keep it up.


  2. Hey Toby,

    thanks so much for the comment! A blog first!

    In terms of scariest films I completely agree about Alien and Event Horizon - which in general relativity terms actually means the point of no return, so I always thought it an awesome title.

    Other movies that have given me the shivers over the years would have to include the original version of The Ring, the Spanish version of Rec, and I still have pensive mirror moments over Candyman. The Exorcism of Emily Rose I found chilling and it stayed with me for ages, and The Fourth Kind stopped me from getting any sleep for almost a week, loved it!

    Oh, and a guilty pleasure - What Lies Beneath!

    Just a handful there, but I could go on for ages...

    Thanks again for getting involved, really appreciate it.

    Nice one!