Detroit Chic Rating: ** 1/2 out of *****
If you’re a fan of horror films, you’d likely admit that while many horror films are a solid two stars out of five or less, they’re a fun ride regardless. Seldom have I seen a horror movie which I’d say might be worthy of five stars, depending on your personal tastes (Cube is one of the few examples that comes to mind).
Paranormal Activity 2 isn’t quite as low as such two-star horror films, but it definitely is close. While entertaining, the film fails to break new ground and is largely a retread of the previous film with a bigger budget and less scares.
Without giving away too much of the plot, the film is set approximately two months before the events of the first film and focuses on strange events afflicting the family of the sister of the first film’s female protagonist. The filming style is similar, with the reason why the film’s players are being filmed 24-7 being explained away in rather clever fashion early on.
This takes me to my first major beef with the film. The first film was somewhat revolutionary. While The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and others pioneered the “man with a camera” filming style, Paranormal Activity largely pioneered the concept of 24-7 household filming and capturing scary/bizarre events “on tape”. That clever device allowed the original filmmakers to on a razor thin budget make a tremendously entertaining film that raked in millions.
The new film is just more of the same. The similarity in style is remarkable. The key differences being, that there’s more cameras and more actors. But bafflingly, the effects actually seem WEAKER this time around, despite the bigger budget.
My second major beef with the movie is that it falls into the horror sequel trap of overexplaining things. While it gives a relatively logical (*ahem* in a horror-film sense) explanation of the events in the first two movies, the first film was much scarier and more satisfying because it really didn’t explain why the demon was haunting the unfortunate couple. The Ring is a perfect example of how a horror film that explains virtually nothing and is utterly confusing can be the most chilling of all. Paranormal Activity 2 bit by bit explains everything and does so quite well, but in doing so it kills the magic and much of the scares.
When I say that it was not exactly innovative, with a knack for overexplaining the plot, you might think that the film was a miserable experience. That is actually not at all the case. It was actually still quite a fun ride. Even if it is a rehash of the first movie, it still has enough scares and an entertaining enough premise to be fun. It’s likely still one of the better Halloween horror flicks out there.
My bottom line — go see Paranormal Activity 2 with some friends. It’s dumb fun, but it’s still fun. And it may be a whole lot less scary than the first movie — but perhaps that’s a good thing as you’ll probably actually be able to sleep after seeing it, this time around.