One profitable turn deserves another. I believe almost everyone will have balked at the return of investment for the first Paranormal Activity (PA) film, which continues to build upon the recent trend of films seen from the first person perspective by way of a video camera. So confident about the prospects of this film being able to spawn an ongoing franchise (hey, Saw managed 7) that Paranormal Activity 2 was announced shortly after the first film was released into cinemas.
So let's cut to the chase and get to the point - is this film any good? I continue to state that films like this one are an acquired taste. If you do not appreciate films from the first perspective, or are constantly annoyed at plot loopholes that stem from the use of a camera, then this film is not for you, as with any other film of any genre employing the same storytelling technique. Otherwise this is a film that requires you to have watched the first in order to maximize your enjoyment because it makes references to, and ties in intricately with the first, without which you'll be questioning who's who, and the significance of things that can be innocuous if seen by itself.
Writer-director Oren Peli who created the original film takes a backseat here as producer, handing over the directing reins to Tod Williams and writing responsibility to Michael R. Perry. While the first film focused on only one camera with most things happening when the audience is fixated as bedroom voyeurs, here we have more cameras thanks to the introduction of a baby and a series of house break-ins, which give reason for more vantage points to be set up by way of strategically located CCTV and nanny cams, and thus a larger stage set up with various situations to spook, but not quite. Filmmakers can attest to difficulties when it comes to handling either animals or children in films, but Williams prove that both can share the same frame together, and I suspect a lot must have gone into coaxing what the end result was, perhaps with a little help from the CG department.
Michael R. Perry's story though sums up this prequel-sequel (sprequel?) nicely, building upon and expanding the world of PA. The first film posed a number of questions, some of which get addressed here, but in turn builds upon what's known thus far to create more unknowns through the narrative, which is more "talky" since there are a handful of scenes involving a HD camera bought by the family to document baby Hunter's growth, now used to document the strange apparitions that happen more frequently as the story wore on. Some scenes involve switching the camera on during a conversation (yeah, perhaps the social-media aware teenager of today will require everything to be made available and put online), and the constant refusal of the father figure to look at evidence will stretch believability just a tad bit
The spook factor gets considerably dumbed down from the first outing, though making the same impact as the filmmakers went all out to shock you out of complacency as you think by darting your eyes around the screen trying to pick up clues or signs would mean you can keep a step ahead. Some tactics like the moving door get repeated, but only so because as I mentioned, there's an intricate link between the two films. Here we follow the Dey family of four - Dad Daniel, Mum Kristi who is the sister of the first film's Katie, and kids Ali the teenager and Hunter the toddler, where Perry's story provides the backstory, some opening doors for another prequel, while providing closure from PA.
Will there be another Paranormal Activity film? I don't see why not, since the seeds already got sown with more fruits to be harvested by future filmmakers who may want to come on board and stem their mark in providing a fresh perspective to the now mature storytelling technique. If the basis of the film continues to be that of putting oneself into the shoes of an investigator (as how I will approach this) sieving through tons of archived material just to piece together and reverse engineer the source of all that have happened, PA will grow its own fanbase (if not already) and probably develop into a franchise to be reckoned with.