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Video Reviews

MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Horror, Mystery/Suspense
Cast
Sprague Grayden as Kristi; Brian Boland as Daniel; Molly Ephram as Ali; Katie Featherston as Katie
Director
Tod Williams
Distributor
Paramount Pictures
In Theaters
October 22, 2010
On Video
February 8, 2011
Reviewer
Bob Hoose
Paranormal Activity 2

Paranormal Activity 2

Kristi and Daniel are an average couple with humble aspirations. All they really want is to settle into family life with their newborn son, Hunter, in their brand-new California home. Meanwhile, the other member of this blended family, Daniel's daughter, Ali, couldn't be a more typical teen.

Nothing out of the ordinary here at all.

Except, that is, for some strange little things that start happening—an odd thump here, something that's not quite right there.

It all started the day the family came home to find the house trashed. Oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be anything missing. But since it still looks like the work of burglars, Daniel does what any conscientious father would do to minimize the threat of another break-in: He installs security cameras. Six of them.

Much to Kristi and Daniel's consternation, however, their Latino housekeeper has a different theory. Martine starts praying over the house to dispel what she calls bad spirits. Frustrated by her superstitious take on things, Dan fires her.

You might take issue with Dan letting Martine go, but you really can't blame him for dismissing her ghostly hypothesis. After all, you can't let that kind of nonsense stand around the kids. Besides, when you imagine the typical locale for sinister supernatural goings-on, you usually think of dark, creepy old houses with ancient, creaking floors and crumbling plaster walls—not brand-new, sun-drenched homes in suburbia.

But what's happening in Dan and Kristi's home is anything but typical. And while they may not always see doors inching open and shadows shifting, the cameras do.

And so the cameras watch.

And … watch.

And so do we.

Positive Elements

Kristi and Daniel love each other and love their children. Daniel may tease his wife gently for worrying about the spooky happenings, but he always deals with her lovingly. He also tries to step up to protect his family when nasty things start happening.

Spiritual Content

What the cameras witness is evidence of an unseen demon that torments the household. In an attempt to combat that demonic influence, Martine whispers prayers in Spanish and walks through a spiritual ceremony as she waves a smoking paper around the house. She also gives Daniel a wooden cross he eventually uses in an exorcism that expels the demon from one character. It leaves its first victim … and then enters a second.

Kristi and her sister, Katie (who was the focus of Paranormal Activity), talk about scary supernatural things that happened when they were kids. They also mention being part of a séance. (Elsewhere, Ali and her boyfriend use a Ouija board.) From that point, much of sequel's plot overlaps with the events and characters in the first film.

Ali wonders if the presence in their house might be the spirit of her deceased mother. But as she tries to find a reason for all the scary crashes and slammed doors, she stumbles upon a website featuring "Demon Facts." Her research leads her to believe that a demonic entity has arrived to claim Hunter, Kristi's firstborn son, as payment for a generations-old bargain.

[Spoiler Warning] In the end, the baby boy gets whisked away by a demon-possessed character.

Sexual Content

All three women (Kristi, Katie and Ali) wear low-cut shirts, tank top sleepwear and bikinis at various points. Kristi goes braless in a T-shirt several times. While in the bath (but strategically covered by bubbles) Kristi invites her husband to join her. He replies suggestively, "Let me unleash the Kraken."

Daniel and Kristi kiss. So do Ali and her boyfriend. While using a Ouija board, Ali's boyfriend flirtingly spells out a slang term for a woman's genitals.

Violent Content

The supernatural entity inhabiting Daniel and Kristi's house smashes furniture, hurls objects to the floor and goes after several animals. A bird mysteriously slams into a window. Daniel picks up the creature, and its head dangles limply from a broken neck. The family dog is also attacked and badly wounded off-camera.

In one particularly intense scene, 3-month-old Hunter is slowly pulled across his crib and lifted up, screaming, by the invisible entity. Kristi gets repeatedly thrashed about and forcefully dragged down a staircase and into the basement. We see a vivid bite mark on her thigh as evidence of the attack.

One of the possessed characters kills two people, snapping the neck of one victim and wickedly tossing another into a wall with tremendous force. There's also overlap with a death in Paranormal Activity, and we see the bloody T-shirt of that victim.

Crude or Profane Language

About a dozen f-words and a half-dozen s-words. Milder profanity includes "d‑‑n" and "a‑‑." Both Jesus' and God's names are misused several times, and the latter is combined with "d‑‑n" once.

Drug and Alcohol Content

People drink beer at a pool party.

Other Negative Elements

While taping a message for her infant brother, Ali dishes out a couple of toilet-humor gags.

Conclusion

The original Paranormal Activity does one thing very effectively: It features an unblinking camera set up at the foot of a young couple's bed and asked moviegoers to keep watch over the pair in the black of night. As tiny thumps thump and doors move oh-so-slightly, the audience scans the screen and strains to spot horrors where there are none. By the time the scares show up in earnest, they are terrifying.

But Paranormal Activity's surprise success was anything but terrifying for Hollywood. And when an obscure independent horror movie works so well—multiplying its shoestring budget of $15,000 into a monstrous $193 million box office take worldwide—there's only one thing to do: Make a sequel. Fast.

So here we are a year later, with Paranormal Activity 2 working hard to rebottle the fright formula that made its predecessor the buzz-worthy horror event of 2009. But it can be easily argued that rebottling the right formula is not the same thing as merely ratcheting up the supernatural proceedings in an attempt to keep nail-biting audiences from noticing that this is pretty much the same film.

And the fact that it's pretty much the same film means that besides proffering plot holes big enough for a poltergeist to take up residence in, it has all of the original's problems: a profanity-laden script, an earful of twisted demonology and suspense that eventually amps up into brutal violence.

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