Paranormal Activity 2 Review

Paranormal Activity 2 has a goal, and that’s to expand on the mythology of the first film which is of course assuming the original had any… which it didn’t. At all. So scratch that.

Paranormal Activity 2 has a goal to to establish a mythology that was never present in the original, and to make sense of that first movie’s ending. There. That’s better.

Regardless of what it is trying to do, it doesn’t make it any better. The only reason any of the scares work in this series is because you know they’re coming. Everything is premeditated by silence and watching people walk around a house, which in this case is under surveillance by security cameras. Activity 2 ramps up quick, mostly because some studio head realized how ridiculously boring the original was. In the process, they somehow made the whole sequel/prequel thing cost a staggering $3 million dollars.

This is a kind of/sort of prequel that yes, does explain why the demon is after this family, a ludicrous explanation that only further serves to degrade this mind-numbingly dumb series further. It should be offensive to demon kind everywhere, this spirit having plenty of chances to get what it wants yet it chooses to torment this family. Maybe the spirits are just overly rambunctious teenagers?

The editing hates dialogue, or maybe the studio does because each line costs them money. The movie has no problem sitting a camera on the same swimming pool every single night, yet all conversations are jump cut piece by piece. Security footage is intercut with the HD cam carried around by the characters, who of course never have an angle on the good stuff, yet manage to be perfectly still for those conveniently placed scares like a toy mysteriously crossing the floor.

Almost everything here is a monumental waste of time, the idea of tension being derived from silence utterly absurd. This is a visual medium, and if you completely fail to provide interesting visuals, then you have failed. Twice now movie audiences have flocked to this garbage looking to be scared, and twice they have apparently fallen for the same tricks. What have we come to?

Movie ★☆☆☆☆ 

It’s not even fair to judge the video of this thing. Paramount’s AVC encode is fine, the high bitrate ensuring that any problems (and there are a lot of them) are squarely on the fault of the source material. Discussion about detail goes nowhere because none exists within the frame, the source compression overbearing and the sharpness so dull it couldn’t resolve anything even if it wanted to.

The HD cam footage is the more acceptable of the two, the natural colors at least somewhat pleasing to the eye. In darker situations, every type of video noise is present, and the image horrendously smears during fast motion. When it comes time for night vision, banding litters the walls while the gaudy green palette takes over.

Video from the security cameras is only slightly different in terms of visible issues. Colors are somewhat brighter in the day, and the now familiar blue at night. Ringing and edge enhancement dominate the frame, while the lower resolution introduces a host of other issues like aliasing and shimmering.

There’s not a single impressive frame in the whole thing, and when one of the characters remarks that the camera is HD, it’s cringe-worthy. He is not necessarily wrong, but the idea that someone would possibly consider this hi-def is downright depressing.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

That bloated multi-million dollar budget certainly didn’t go to the sound design. This is a movie where nothing happens after all, the impending scares preceded by a low rumble in the subwoofer. That’s basically it. There is no attempt to scare the audience with distinct positional audio. Things that fall in the night, dogs barking, and babies crying all exist in the fronts. There’s one major thump, and that doesn’t even come close to the one from the first movie.

Dialogue is appropriately hollow and naturally echo-oriented. This DTS-HD mix doesn’t do anything to compress or further cheapen it at least. There is no score or music because this is “real” you see, so there’s nothing to discuss on that front either. It’s all-around deplorable for realities sake.

Audio ★★★☆☆ 

Found Footage translates into deleted scenes for about four minutes, and the disc includes both the cuts of the film. The extended runs about seven minutes longer.

Extras ★☆☆☆☆ 

Note: Screens are out of order and do not have time stamps due to a Media Player Classic issue.