INTERN’S VIEW: Why I Walked Out Of ‘Paranormal Activity 2,’ An Unscary Bore


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by Philip Benais

Paranormal Activity 2: Directed by Tod Williams; Starring Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Brian Boland, Sprauge Grayden, Molly Ephraim and Tim Clemens.

What would we do without bad movies? For many people (including me) cheesy or schlocky films can be very enjoyable, a break from being a legitimate cinema lover and just enjoying yourself with a bad movie on a Saturday night. Two of my personal idols have made a good living off of those sorts of films, but the other side of that coin is a scary place. When you reach that point, you have films like Freddy Got Fingered or The Last Airbender that make you want to claw your eyes out, but you also have the colossal bores. They take all shapes and sizes, some of them even get academy recognition but the main thing is that they are impossible to sit through, sometimes even more so than other bad movies. Like it’s predecessor and The Blair Witch Project before it, Paranormal Activity 2 is one of those bores.

This marks the third time in my entire life I’ve ever walked out of a movie theatre and if this series continues, I’m sure it won’t be the last. When the original Paranormal Activity came out I was in a distinct minority of film goers, in that I saw it for the gimmicky nonsense that it was instead of being terrified like everyone said I should be. In my opinion the original Paranormal Activity was a shining example of everything wrong with horror films today; no tension, no atmosphere and above all, no frights. I even laughed at some of the inane claptrap they wanted us to accept, so when I saw the previews for Paranormal Activity 2, I knew it would be bad, but they managed to make it even worse this time around; gone are the unintentionally hilarious bits, replaced with a pacing that would make Dr. Zhivago envious. If this film is good horror, then Jonah Hex was a better comic book adaptation than The Dark Knight and I would rather not visit that bizzaro world. .

The story follows the exploits of Kristi and Dan, a couple who live around the block from the original couple Katie and Micah. It turns out that Kristi is Katie’s sister and the film is a prequel to the original. That would be fine if it wasn’t marketed as a sequel or had a giant ‘2’ in the title. At the rate these films are going, the third film will be about Katie and Kristi as kids being tormented by the demon. I haven’t been this sick of a horror film antagonist since Jigsaw.

The rest I’m afraid, I didn’t catch. I apologize, but for those who’ve seen the film you all know what a cure for insomnia it can be. I nearly fell asleep twice while they were supposed to be building tension and what was the payoff? A loud thump, the baby cries and the nanny gets fired. Great job movie, you’ve upgraded my desire to see the couple die to seeing everyone die, way to build suspense. On top of that, it doesn’t help that everyone in this movie can’t act. Was there no direction on the set or did the director just enjoy watching these D Grade Performers constantly bring new meanings to the phrase ‘not the sharpest knife in the drawer’? I think the dog is the only thing on camera that has any future after this movie.

It always seems like the horror films I hate the most are the ‘real footage’ kinds, excluding the brilliant Spanish film REC. Ever since The Blair Witch Project these sorts of films have been soaring in popularity and I never understood the attraction. OK, sometimes they are done well like the aforementioned REC, but that film built on the necessary aspects of the horror genre, like suspense, atmosphere etc. Both Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity 1 & 2 have no understanding of what makes a good horror film for a multitude of reasons. The most obvious (besides the piss-poor pacing) is the clear lack of any decent characterization. Watching unlikeable characters banter with each other on a camcorder is not entertaining and it doesn’t make them any less unlikeable. In the first Paranormal Activity for example, Micah is a meat-headed moron with HD technology. I don’t want to see a character like that succeed, I want them to die and if you’re banking on people being scared, that’s not a good thing. The same goes for any character in this film, be it the annoying wife, the stupid husband, the stereotypically teenage daughter or the nanny that made me reminisce about the overzealous catholic security guard from ‘Devil’, which happens to be a much better movie. At least that crappy movie made me laugh, which is more than I can say for this one.

Ultimately, Paranormal Activity 2 is one of the worst films I’ve seen all year. I’d rather go back and write a glowing review for Life As We Know It. I’d rather renounce horror as a genre than see this again. Between the non-existent pacing, the unlikeable characters and the lack of anything scary, it’s safe to say this series should be stopped before it does any more harm. I’m sure it won’t stop Hollywood from making Paranormal Activity 3: Electric Boogalo in a couple of years. Maybe we’ll luck out and the demon can do its job and kill the people that deserve it; the people who green light this kind of junk.

Rating:     / *****

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: Philip Benais is our newest Intern, a 16-year old student at Big Picture High School in SeaTac. He’s an aspiring Writer who loves movies, so we let him write reviews for us.

Read more of his work here.]

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