Jen's Rating:

4.0

Hide your kids, hide your wife.

Who’s In It: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim, Vivis

The Basics: Remember poor Katie (Katie Featherston), the young lady with the camera-happy boyfriend (Micah Sloat) haunted by a demon in 2007’s Paranormal Activity? This sequel/prequel rewinds the clock three months prior as Katie’s sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and her husband, Daniel (Brian Boland) bring their newborn son home to the suburbs, where they live with Daniel’s teenage daughter from a previous marriage (Molly Ephraim), their religious nanny (Vivis), and their devoted German shepherd. All’s peaceful in quiet Carlsbad, CA -- well, except for a mysterious break-in that prompts Daniel to install security cameras in every room. And those strange noises that turn into LOUD strange noises in the middle of the night. And the doors that open on their own. And the unseen forces that seem to sneak into the baby’s room when no one’s looking. But hey, it’s probably nothing, right?

What’s The Deal: After reaping a gazillion-dollar profit on the micro-budgeted Paranormal Activity, Paramount Pictures attempts to make lightning strike twice with a prequel that once again makes it difficult to return home to a darkened house. Director for hire Tod Williams (The Door in the Floor) replicates the feel and structure of the first film, building gradual tension on repetitious scenes of domestic tranquility – the unmanned swimming pool, the baby’s nursery, the living room, the kitchen – before shattering the calm with an escalating series of events, identical to how Paranormal Activity unfolded. But where the first film was marketed with a wink and sold as a maybe-true story, this time around we’re all in on the charade, which frees Williams to up the ante and forgo realism for entertainment; thus, the stakes are elevated, the creepy shenanigans are more overt, and viewers become actively engaged as agents in their own fright, willing the scares to come.

Who’s Good: The entire cast of (mostly) unknowns. Actress Sprague Grayden is slightly distracting only because of her solidly memorable work on 24 and Sons of Anarchy but is excellent here as a new mother and unwitting target of demonic malevolence. She and her fellow actors strike a natural chemistry that makes Williams’ economical, often brief slice-of-life scenes snap with authenticity. Even the baby actors and the dog bounce with energy and are given interesting things to do.

What Paranormal Activity 2 Does Well: Inserts horror movie tropes into a realistic setting. The haunted house, the demons that only dogs and babies can see, the sinister basement where evil dwells – these things would be cheesy and overdone in most modern horror flicks, but subtle performances and restrained direction (not to mention the use of practical over CG effects) give these clichés such power that you might find yourself wondering if supernatural spirits are behind those creaks and thumps you hear in your own home at night.

Where It Really Excels: Paranormal Activity 2 doesn’t just duplicate the scares of the original, it builds on its predecessor the way film sequels should. Story strands and background established in the first film are elaborated on and explained further while shocking revelations answer lingering questions. And yet Paranormal Activity 2 also slyly introduces new information that could potentially sow the seeds of another sequel, suggesting that there are more mysteries to solve before this story has run its course.

Good News For The Squeamish: This supernatural tale will thrill you and chill you without relying on blood and guts, unlike October’s other scary offering, Saw 3D (aka Saw VII). Why suffer through yet another round of moralizing torture porn when this smart, effective, no-frills R-rated pic will satisfy your horror jones and have you sleeping with the lights on (in a good way)?

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Comments (17)

Janina - 10-21-2010 7:03 PM
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Brilliant review! You bettah hide yo kids, hide your wife.. made me lol! Definitely going to see this movie now!

becca - 10-22-2010 2:22 AM
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Wait....so is there a need to hide yo husband too? Cuz this movie seems to be scaring everyone out there

JohnB - 10-22-2010 9:10 AM
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So how does this work? Does Dave sometimes hold out on reviewing a big movie and let you do it first so more people will read in on your reviews instead of solely relying on Dave's? If so, great idea because I'm glad I started reading your reviews, they are always great!! Can't wait to see this, I was a lil worried til I read this review, now I wanna go see it!!

krys - 10-22-2010 9:19 AM
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Sweeeet. I cant wait to see this. I typically agree with Dave's reviews but yours are just as accurate in my opinion. Keep it up!

jordon - 10-22-2010 9:27 AM
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and hide your husband too! we gonna find you, we gonna find you!

Jen Yamato - 10-22-2010 5:30 PM
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I heart you all. And JohnB, to answer your question, it all depends on when Dave and I see the films we review; sometimes we attend the same screenings, sometimes not. I was lucky and got into a special midnight screening of Paranormal Activity 2, but there weren't official press screenings for it. I can't wait to hear what Dave thought!

JohnB - 10-23-2010 3:49 AM
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I got ya, I was just thinking maybe it was all part of some plan because maybe no one read Dawn's reviews on here. Not to take anything away from her, but Dave had already laid down the foundation and got the visitors of this site used to his style and trying to read hers just seemed like more of a pain... or something. But WE HEART YOU!!! You're the best, I don't even listen to Ebert or any of the others, I just come here lol Jen & Dave = WIN

adewole - 10-23-2010 10:46 AM
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i sincerely reserve my comments

Peter G - 10-24-2010 10:36 PM
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I'm sorry, but don't you EVER connect Paranormal Activity to ANYTHING that relates to the Saw franchise. The Saw movies top any piece of crap that these guys will ever produce. I'm 14 and I was 13 when i saw Paranormal Activity. The movie SUCKED. Honestly, there was nothing scary or remotely creepy about the movie. And I understand they chose unknown actors in order to create a more realistic feel, but the actors they chose, didn't know HOW to act! The saw franchise is honestly some of the best thrillers ever produced. I can not even bear to see it in a review for Paranormal Activity unless the review was to say, "Skip this piece of crap, and see Saw 3D next weekend." I am honestly appalled.

ML - 10-25-2010 8:36 AM
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Good thing we have a 14 year old here to tell us what movie is worth watching. Where were you when I went and saw Avatar instead of High School Musical? Maybe you should stick to screaming at people in your high pitched voice on Halo instead of giving advice like, "This movie has more blood and guts than Paranormal Activity, therefore it is scarier".

drigoz - 10-25-2010 11:11 AM
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how about not comparing two movies that have nothing to do with each other!. why are you bringing up SAW? how old are you. its one of my favorite series also, but it doesnt apply here. lol.

Peter G - 10-26-2010 9:45 PM
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Alright LG, first of all, you have no right to compare me to the rest of my generation. Do you know me? No. I'm sure that I know way more about movies than you will ever know. In fact, my dad is a screenwriter in the WGA. So next time you make a comment like that, think first. I don't infest myself with any video games, especially not Halo for that matter, nor do I have a "high-pitched voice." Though that is not what your comment contained that peeved me to this extent. First of all High School Musical came out in 2006 and Avatar came out last year, in 2009. You don't need to Google that not to make that ridiculous mistake. Second of all, Avatar was also a terrible movie of which did not deserve any nominations at all, especially not Best P

Peter G - 10-26-2010 9:52 PM
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especially not best picture. There was so much more to my argument but it all got deleted. To paraphrase, I argued that you also are making the same mistake by saying I judge horror movies based on gore, when you're judging Avatar based on it's effects. It's foolish and ignorant. In addition, after probably 20 more sentences explaining why you're comment was foolish, I went on to say to drigoz, that I related Paranormal Activity to the Saw movies because Jen did the same. Then I went on to say that if drigoz is going to comment on something, he should read the review first.

Don - 10-29-2010 9:54 AM
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I have to say that for me this was the worst movie made of the year. Just like the last one it was just painful to watch. They open doors in the kitchen (with a delayed reaction..lol). The baby is picked up by a ghost; but the ghost slides the baby up on the side of the crib(weak..to crop out the actual person doing it..lol) If you are looking for a scare this in my opinion is just not it. This whole reality like scare tactics played out with Blair Witch.

Caleb Franklin - 11-03-2010 6:01 AM
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And you better hide husband cause dey scarin everybody out'der! Demons gonna find you, they gon find you. So run like scaredy cat, like a scaredy cat. Home boy!

Me - 11-13-2010 12:36 PM
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you dont have to come and confest they're looking for u they're gonna find u they gonna find u,so you can run until that!

erick - 11-22-2010 5:30 PM
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this movie sux nuff said

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