Friday, October 21, 2011

Film #80: Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Kid sister, kid sister, kid sister, kid sister!
Kid sister killed me!

Kristi Ray may sing this jaunty 1980s commercial tune in hell after the events of Paranormal Activity 2 unfold.
Her sister is, after all, the notorious Katie from the first Paranormal Activity that became possessed by a demon and murdered her boyfriend. But all that is in the future, so right now the K-sisters are the best of buddies!

Oh the fun sisters Kristi and Katie had back in the day as kids.
You know, all that crying about demons, literally driving their mother insane, and that little incident when their house mysteriously burned down.
Ah the memories.

But they are all grown up now, damn it, and they won’t talk about such spooky dealings!
Older sister Kristi is officially an adult, having recently married Burger King franchise pimp and widower Brian Rey and squeezing out fresh baby Hunter.
Kristi, Brian and Brian’s teenage daughter Ali all shack up in a kickin’ Carlsbad, Cali-crib... happy as can be.

Well, at least happy until baby Hunter comes home from the hospital and weird occurrences begin to occur. It starts with strange noises going bump in the night… the ones Ali isn’t making with her pimply boyfriend Brad.

Then one day the Rey family comes home to find their entire home trashed… as if a tornado of evil had torn ass through the joint. They even smashed the 50 inch TV! The savages!
Strangely though, nothing had been stolen from the “break-in” expect a good luck necklace Kristi’s kid sister Katie gave her back in their miserable childhood. Foreshadowing!

Well this scares the family worse than tourists on the El, so they install a state of the art home security system that includes closed circuit cameras in every room of the house (lucky for us movie goers, eh?!)

When pans start leaping from their hangers and the robo-pool cleaner takes to jumping from its watery grave nightly, Kristi starts to worry that the spooks from her childhood have come back to haunt her.
Sis Katie tells her to “just stop it!” with that talk. The more you talk about the demons, the stronger they become.
Katie will find this out the hard way in a few weeks, seeing as she is the star/victim of the first Paranormal Activity. But again, this is a prequel, so don't spoil Katie's surprise!

Brian is too much of a man to believe in ghosts, but teen Ali is thrilled a Casper has shacked up with the fam. 
Along with hornball Brad, the two bust out the Ouija board and attempt to contact the spirit in the home.
After all, it could be her dead mother creeping on her husband’s new family!

If we learned anything from the first Paranormal Activity, it is that use of a Ouija board is the equivalent of opening your front door and soul to the netherworld.

After the welcome invitation to murder, the spirit moves from noises to heavy duty spooks and even attempts a possession or two. Now Ali is scared, and starts researching just what could be causing this ghost to haunt her family.
Thinking of her step-mothers past experiences, Ali takes to the all knowing Internet to solve the mystery. Meanwhile, the demon has taken a shine to fresh baby Hunter. Baby meat is after all the tastiest human flesh.

Will the Ray family be able to exorcise their demons?
Can this be accomplished simply by walking the demon once in awhile, like they promised they would do every day if their mean old parents would just let them get it?
Why do good things happen to bad people?
Find out, in the 2010 screamquel, “Paranormal Activity 2.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 3.9
Chris Dimick exorcises:
“Take a chill pill America.
Most modern horror relies on fast cuts, flashy gore, and ear piercing racket to frighten its audience. After all, the post-MTV generation has the attention span of gnats, right? They would surely turn to their newfangled texting computers if the action/horror wasn’t balls in the face every second of the film? Right?

Wrong. Slow suspense still stabs deeper into the scare consciousness of an audience than any flashy serial killer gore fest. Want proof, turn on the Paranormal Activity series.
Like a calm Crystal Lake just before mutant Jason lunches from the depths, Paranormal Activity strips down horror to its base ingredients: atmosphere, suspense, tension, and creepy dialog.
It is a breath of fresh air.

Yes, this is a product of the public’s obsession with mindless reality TV and fake first person “documentaries.” But it is easy to let that slide when PA2 is so good at making you jump.
Each lashing out of the Rey’s pesky demon is preceded by long bouts of character building dialog, and even longer shots of various security camera images showing nothing at all but a home.

At first, it becomes a where’s Waldo of sorts for the viewer looking at the images and trying to detect where the ghost will appear.
Since the camera is stationary, PA2 relies on the viewer to find the action in the scene. And that simple trick causes a lot of anxiety and tension to build, which is released when the ghost makes it’s usually surprising appearance.

Like the first movie, many of the scenes seem loosely scripted and ad-libbed, which give you the personal “home video” feel of the film. This is after all “found footage” of a real haunting (yep, they are still playing that old tune). But it works in this setting.

Scenes build as the audience is shown various camera angles in rhythmic fashion. Pool shot, front door shot, inside house hallway shot, nursery shot, nursery shot, GHOST!

The ghost action typically centers on baby Hunter, so this slow burn of video leading up to the nursery leaves the audience to wonder just what will happen in the room next. Or the next room. The technique is simple, but effective.

Audiences have been flocking to see the Paranormal Activity movies, with the 3rd installment being released today. It is easy to see why they are packing them in.

The plot is interesting and twisty enough to keep the franchise honest; after all PA2 is both a prequel AND a sequel to PA1.
But the real bread and butter of this series is how its slow, quiet action always ends in a big shocking spook… and likely a few wet theater seats. Best of all, PA2 is even freakier and more “jump” inducing than the first movie.

Ferris Bueller once said “Live moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and awhile, you might miss it.”
So take a break, slow it down, and relax with Paranormal Activity 2. It’s better than a Zanax and twice as trippy! Well, actually, don't expect to relax…”

N-Rating: 3.4
Nick Rich exorcises:

Thank you Google for making me aware of the existence of 'Boy Howdy'.
There's so much to love about this picture!

Two weeks in a row of demons haunting heathen families that are just trying to live 'the good life'! What were we thinking here at the ol' RDHP? For one, we were thinking that the postal system in Chicago is horrendous (not a new thought) as, according to Netflix, it swallowed up the film we were supposed to watch this week. Secondly, as this is October (that magical time of invigorating air, crisp apple cider and days growing creepily shorter) we were in the mood for a good scare. Given the jaw slacking shock and eerie awe that accompanied the first film, we thought Paranormal Activity 2 would fit the bill nicely as this week's pinch hitter.

Why must you taunt me so by not being cider?!?

And fit it did! PA 2 was a fun flick.
After I got over the requisite plot exposition (i.e. the placement of the cameras, establishing the cast, etc) I found myself eagerly drinking in the slow-boil that flowed from the rest of the story. Let it be know: certain things strike me as odd in films and when they do I become a bit irked by them. In the case of PA 2 it struck me as odd that a family would get video surveillance of every square inch of the inside (and outside) of their house after it got trashed. Wouldn't most people just get a security alarm system and maybe a few cameras on the outside? Who would really want every nook and cranny of their home recorded and view-able? That in and of itself is a scary proposition! Does this premise bother anyone else?!?

Conveniently we can see nearly every inch of the Rey household.
Ok, Nick, we've moved past that... you enjoyed the film remember? Wait, while we're in tangent land let's ruminate for a moment about the fact that you are oddly craving horror films involving babies just as you are about to have one of your own. What up with that? Are you hoping to learn every possible thing that can go wrong with a child so as to avoid it? Perhaps this your subconscious trying to deal with a fear you are unaware of in the depths of your psyche? Or is it simply that babies seem more real to you now and hence you are trying to take advantage of the fact that you are ripe for being creeped out by them on a whole new level...

I love my baby but fully acknowledge its
potential to be unearthly creepy.

Getting back on track: as with all sequels, PA 2 had to deal with the loss of the novelty factor. While it was in most ways equal to, if not better than, its predecessor I found this film to be lacking a bit when compare to the first. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed watching this film. My face froze in shock at times, the hair on my arms stood on end and I was just generally chill-ridden throughout the viewing... but not as much as the first one.
I knew the formula; the mystery wasn't as palpable in this film. I knew there would be a slow buildup that would culminate in an explosive ending. Did I enjoy the ride? Of course! It was a satisfying one, but it just doesn't compare to the first. No matter how great that second kiss it, it still can't match the shock, emotion and new sensation of the first one. Oh, it can be fun and even knock your socks off, but your heart will still belong to the first. I wonder how the third will feel?

The Skinny: Check this flick out for a good scare or if you want to ensure some hectic snuggling the next time you're on the couch with your dearest - it's Halloween season after all!

Things We Learned From Paranormal Activity 2:
-The Misfits are so hardcore.
-New-born babies are “smushie.”  
-“Release the Kraken” is the best way to begin sex.
-Sage is your best friend in a haunted house.
-Nick hates voicemail. He HATES it.
-You can’t trust the word of anyone under 15.
-The terrorist win when babies rule Mommy/Daddy time.
-Most Mexican nannies double as exorcists:

RDHP Presents:
Our Favorite Ghosts
We ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts! In fact, there are quite a few specters that the RDHP wouldn’t mind running into in a spooky cemetery or haunted castle. Sure, the demon in Paranormal Activity 2 doesn’t seem all the cuddly.
But not all spirits are evil. Below, we list our favorite ghosts from both film and legend.

Large Marge
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
This scene featuring free-wheeling truck driver ghost Large Marge from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure was so terrifying to child Chris, he had his mother actually remove it from his tape copy of the movie.

Ghostbusters (1984)
His ectoplasm goes great with pita bread!

Space Ghost
Space Ghost Coast to Coast (TV, 1994-2008)
Is Tad Ghostal a real ghost? No one knows. And no one cases. Well, maybe Zorak.

Elliot Hopper
Ghost Dad (1990)
From the look of those sweaters, we’d have to say Bill Cosby’s Ghost Dad is eventually heading to fashion hell.

Beetlejuice (1988)
He is the ghost with the most after all. The most what? We'd say sass. But let's ask him. "Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!"

Dr. Malcolm Crowe
The 6th Sense (1999)
What a friendly ghost, helping little Haley Joel Osment literally conquer his demons. Oops, did we just spoil the ending off The 6th Sense? Good, if you haven’t seen that movie by now, you suck.

Resurrection Mary
Urban legend dating to 1930s
This lady in white appears along highways in various parts of Chicagoland, hitching a ride to her home… which always ends up being a cemetery. What? But that legend is in your town too?
How many hot white chicks have died in automobile accidents already?

Jack Goodman
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Olde Jack comes back from the dead to help his cursed buddy. Hey, even werewolves need friends too?

A Christmas Carol Ghosts
Charles Dickens' classic novel; endless movies
The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future taught not just Scrooge a lesson, but us all. And that lesson is: don’t be an asshole.

Dick Clark
Former American Television Icon
Speaking of holiday ghosts, strange that this apparition only appears at the stroke of midnight, New Years Eve. Oops... did we say stroke.

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