Paranormal Activity 3 Review

On Friday, Ryan and I ventured to see Paranormal Activity 3 at the V.I.P. theatre in Oakville.  I think that for every movie I really want to see badly, I will see it in this theatre – there’s absolutely no annoying people ever, so I can actually enjoy the film.  I would’ve had this review up Saturday, but on Saturday group of friends and I went to Hallowe’en Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland (a theme park in Toronto).  I really enjoyed it by the way – so if anyone is in Toronto area in October, and likes haunted houses as well as roller coasters, definitely check it out.  Just try to go earlier in October and maybe not on a Saturday (it was killer busy when we went, but we still had fun).  So enough with my rambling, on to my review!:

Directed By: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Generally I give up on a horror movie franchise by the second film – I’m a bit bitter towards sequels, especially with this genre in particular.  It seems to me that Hollywood now more than ever is just after a quick, easy buck.  Which of course makes sense, they are a business after all.  But that doesn’t mean that the product they are selling should be inferior or poorly produced, and Hollywood seems to have lost this concept.  Sequels, trilogies and never-ending series (like the Saw or Final Destination franchises, which should have been buried long ago) are examples of Hollywood’s focus on just the money rather than the product.  However, on occasion I have been surprised by sequels, and I was surprised with Paranormal Activity 3 – but in both a good and a bad way.

I went in thinking that it would be entertaining, yes, but good – of course not.  With that in mind, I was surprised to find a film that seemed to go back to the “roots” of the series.  The second film, though I enjoyed it, found that it had ventured more towards the easy scares and played to what the audience expected.  The third in the series while still containing more “scares” and just overall more action for the attention deficit movie goer, went back to what I loved about the first film: the suspense.

Keep in mind,  I may be spoiling major plot points of this film in the future paragraphs, and if you do not want to be spoiled, I’d advise you to either stop reading, or jump down to my last paragraph for my final thoughts on the film.

This film is set before the events of the second film (which in turn was set before the events of the first film).  So it’s a preprequel I guess.  This film focuses on Katie and Kristi when they were little girls in the late 80s.  Instead of me spending the entire review explain all the little details of the film, I’m going to go just into what I liked about it, and what I didn’t like about the film.

The movie itself was well made, there was a bigger budget for this film, but it didn’t look like it wasn’t “authentic” so to speak, they put a lot of effort into making it look like a home video from the late 80s which I enjoyed.  Part of the second one that I didn’t enjoy as much was that it was very crisp and clear, and to me it lost the element of realism that the first one had.  It felt like I was watching a movie trying to look like real footage, where as the first and third one had the look and feel of “real footage”. 

With the added budget though, they had a lot of cool new scares that I really enjoyed.  The use of the oscillating fan/camera hybrid that the character Dennis (the girls’ mother’s boyfriend) makeshifts helps with a lot of the suspense – there’s a lot of tension built when the camera pans away from something happening, it makes it unsettling for the audience.  My favourite little scare was with this camera in particular.  There’s a babysitter in the dining room, doing homework – the camera pans away to the living room to show a figure in a sheet, about the size of one of the two girls.  The camera pans back to the babysitter, and when the camera makes its way back to the living room, and there’s nothing there.  Back to the babysitter, and the figure is standing behind her.  Just as she turns around, the sheet collapses, and there’s nothing underneath it.  It didn’t make me jump or scream, but the effect itself was very good, and it really helped build the tension of the scene.  Stuff like this mixed with an “old school” look as well as more of an emphasis on building tension I think helped merge the first and two films together, so more people could enjoy it.  I know some people didn’t like the first one because they thought it was boring – whereas people like me enjoyed it because it was more about what didn’t happen, and what you didn’t see.  The second film to me felt like it had less suspense and more jump scares.  I felt like the third one was a nice balance between both of these.

Another thing I enjoyed with this film is the characters.  There were more people in the movie, which I feel helped it a bit.  The first film only had four people in it – Katie, Micah, Katie’s friend and the priest.  Though it helped focus the story and events on the two main characters, I felt that it was a tiring, because to me the couple had very little chemistry (even before the weird stuff really started to happen).  The second film was a bit more of an improvement, but it was still a bit annoying (for me at least).  This film had a really good couple to play off of, the characters Julie and Dennis.  Julie is Kristi and Katie’s mother, and I felt that her character fit in well with the established series.  I really enjoyed her relationship with Dennis because even with all the weird stuff happening, it never felt like their relationship was “falling apart” like in the other films, that they still cared for each other even when they were upset, tired, or angry at each other.  I felt it added a level of believability, and it made me just really enjoy their characters.  The young Katie and Kristi were very good as well, especially Kristi because she was more of the focus of the demon’s haunting (because she was younger I suppose).  For young children actors, they did a good job making me believe they were scared.  Another character I felt was a good addition was Dennis’ friend Randy.  He was more of just a comic relief I suppose, but I enjoyed it.  Overall, I think the more characters in the film helped make it feel more real – because in reality, I see a lot of people all the time, so it feels right that there’d be more people being involved with what’s happening.  It just feels a bit more genuine I suppose. 

Yeah, this doesn't happen in the movie.

There are some things about this film I didn’t enjoy though, or at least feel detracted from what was done right.  One obvious thing is the trailer.  In every trailer or tv spot there are scenes shown that were never in the film.  The most obvious one is a priest being present.  I’m almost positive they tested this with an audience and changed the ending, which makes me really curious to see how it was going to end or where the film was originally going to go.  From the trailer, I was expecting the house to burn down, like Katie had mentioned in the first film.  Maybe it’s good that the film went in a very different direction than I expected, however, this left a lot of holes and questions asked.  The biggest one I had during the film is what happened to the girl’s father?  I believe he was mentioned once in the film, the grandmother had mentioned that they missed their father.  Did he die?  Did they divorce?  My questioning mind wonders if perhaps something supernatural happened to him, especially considering he was credited on IMDB as a character.  I also wonder about continuity – at the end of the film, it appears that both Julie and Dennis meet an unfortunate fate, and I can’t recall in the other previous films if it was mentioned that they lived with their grandmother or not.  Stuff like that just gets on my nerves a lot, maybe I’m nitpicking, but it does bother me.  But seriously, pretty much nothing from the trailer was in the film – that’s just…unexpected.

Another thing I am still not sure about is the ending.  I can’t really explain why it bothers me unless I explain it, so I apologize for being wordy.  But here is my description:

The family ends up going to Julie’s mother’s house after them getting scared about everything happening.  Before this decision is made, it shows the demon attacking Katie, and Kristi pleading for it to let her go.  She tells Toby (the name she gives the demon in the film) that she’ll “do it” if he lets her sister go.  After they are at the grandmothers’ house, during the evening Dennis wakes up hearing something that sounds like car doors shutting.  Julie goes to investigate, but doesn’t come back.  He grabs the camera and tries to find her.  He checks in on the girls and they are gone.  He sees a strange shadow in the living room, and investigates.  Inside he sees pagan markings on the wall, similar to ones mentioned earlier in the film.  He continues looking for Julie and the girls, and walks in on a bunch of women dressed in black, in the middle of some sort of ritual, he retreats as they follow him. Locking the doors into the house, he tries to find Julie and the two girls.  He sees Julie propped awkwardly at the top of the stairs, levitating of the ground.  Attempting to grab her, she is flung at him down the stairs, landing hard at the bottom.  It wasn’t very clear if she survived or not, but I’m guessing not.  Kristi appears in the next room, scared, he grabs her and they hide in the closet.  Something starts attacking the door; after a few moments of silence, he opens the door to find Katie at the stairs, crying.  Apprehensively, he approaches, and just as he reaches her, she turns and screams at him – sounding like the demon “Toby”, and is flung backwards, sending the camera crashing.  He crawls forward, clearly injured, and the girls’ grandmother appears.  She looks at Dennis, and then he is lifted awkwardly, his back is snapped.  She calls over Kristi, and takes both girls’ hands and heads up stairs.  As the ascend, Kristi happily says “come on Toby!”.  This is where the film leaves us.

This bother’s me a bit for a few reasons.  For one, it was established in the first film that the entity was a demon, so no problems there.  But in the second one, it is then established that on occasion a human can make a deal with a demon for wealth or power by forfeiting the life of the first-born son, and that no sons had been born in their family since their great-great-grandmother.  I realize that this isn’t “hard facts” in the series, that this is all speculative, but I don’t understand the motivation for this coven of witches, or whatever they were, to forfeit the first-born son.  What are they gaining from it?  Why do they offer this to this entity?  It wasn’t a bad ending by any means, but I felt it left too many questions, too many things open-ended.  I was hoping this would be the final film in the series, and that this film would answer the questions the other films had left – the biggest being was the why.  And though there was a sort of answer, I don’t feel that sort-of is really enough for me.

Again, this series has left me feeling torn.  I enjoyed the film a lot – but was it as good as the first?  Of course not.  Though the first was not the first type of “found footage” horror film ever, and this new one will not be the last – but the first film was a gamble for the filmmaker.  With less budget, I felt like they put a lot more into it, just a lot more of themselves.  Without a huge budget, the effectively told a good story, and made it genuinely scary.  The third film is also a good film, but I find that as more is told about this family and their plight with the supernatural, there is less given to the audience.  For every question answered, two more questions are asked.  The first film left you wondering what happened, but it was satisfying not knowing, because it was an experience in itself.  The second film asked more questions, leaving me feeling a bit “empty” so to speak, and this third film to me felt like it cheapened out on giving me the answers I feel as a fan of the series that I deserve.  But despite that, I think the third film is overall an improvement on the second film.  It had a much stronger cast of characters, it was well acted, and there was some really cool scares.  Though I was a bit mixed about the ending, it is still a good ending.  Maybe it’s good that it didn’t meet my expectations, it was a lot more surprising for sure.  I think fans of the series will enjoy it.  If you didn’t like the first or second film, I don’t think the third one will win you over.

ScareMeter: 4/5 “Clutching your best friends hand throughout the film scary” (though for me, it was probably more of a 3/5 – it had its moments, but I’m quite desensitized to the horror genre now).
Overall Movie Rating: 3.5/5

I love the site Thatguywiththeglasses.com, so I thought I’d share the Bum Review with you guys if you were interested.  Just click here, and underneath the Bum Review is Doug’s actual thoughts on the film.  I disagree with him on some parts, but it is interesting to hear his thoughts on it.  He liked the second one better, while I think I like this one better.  However, maybe if I rewatch the second one I’ll feel different.  I think what I most remember from that film is the bad theatre experience, if I rewatch it and change my mind, I’ll let you guys know..

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Scream 4 Review

Directed by: Wes Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts, Marielle Jaffe, Marley Shelton, Rory Culkin, Erik Knudsen, and Nico Tortorella. 

I’ve decided that since it’s raining and I have a headache, that I shouldn’t sit around being completely useless all day.  So after a lovely lunch with my platonic boyfriend Ryan, and a delicious latte beside me, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the film Scream 4 which released her last night. 

As with any of my reviews, I try to not spoil anything pertinent or integral to the plot, but just incase you are absolutely certain you don’t want to know anything at all about this film until you see it, then it’s probably wise to not read on. 

First off, I wanted to say that when we went to see this film, we went to see it in the VIP theatres.  For those who haven’t been to one, or have one nearby, or have no idea what I’m talking about – I’ll explain.  These are special theatres (part of the cineplex chain of theatres), that have “luxury” seating and accommodations for those over the age of 19, and are willing to pay a few extra dollars.  You get larger seats, more leg room, the option to purchase alcohol, and servers who will take your food order from your seats and deliver it to you.  If anyone has the chance to see a film in one of these theatres, I’d really recommend trying it at least once, especially if it’s a film you are really anticipating.  I have to say, it was nice to see a horror film I was excited for in a theatre without annoying, screaming, 15 year olds (no offence to 15 year olds out there). 

I really don’t want to say too much about Scream 4 because what I love about this series is how developed the plot is.  Unlike films like Hallowe’en, or Friday the 13th, these slasher flicks are really just very gorey murder mysteries.  That’s precisely what I adore about them.  And unlike the two others films I mentioned, all of the sequels actually relate to each other without it having to be a mythical, unstoppable killer who keeps somehow coming back.  In each film, Ghostface (as named because of the get-up the killer wears in each film) is a different person (or people depending on which film you’re talking about).  There isn’t an unkillable murderer, it’s always a person with a motive (whether it be a good one or not).  The fourth installment doesn’t stray from this style, which is why I enjoyed it so much.

The basic plot of the film, without going into pretty much any details at all, is that Sidney Prescott, the victim from the first three films, has returned to her hometown of Woodsboro as the first stop in her book tour, detailing her struggles with her past and how she is determined to redefine herself as a survivor and not as a victim.  And like all Scream films, murders start occurring.  I can’t say too much else, because if I start describing who dies and who doesn’t, it’ll be easier to ruin the ending of the film. 

I can tell you why I enjoyed this film though.  Like I already said, I love the Scream series.  Now some could argue that this would give me a positive bias going in to the film, which I suppose is partially true, however, as a fan, it would have been much easier for me to be disappointed this film than any other film-goer.  I had a lot expectations for this film, mostly because the other films gave me stories that were intricate, characters that were well-developed, and sequels that actually worked off of the original film.  The film took a lot of doubts I had about the new film, and made jokes about them.  One thing I feel safe talking about is the opening sequence.  For those of you who haven’t seen a Scream film, the beginning sequence of these films involve a character (or characters) we don’t know (except in the case of the third film), that end up dying a brutal, bloody death, and is the start of the killing spree of the killers.  I figured that the fourth film could never have a decent opening sequence because it had three films preceding it that did it well beforehand.  I thought it may be stupid or contrived.  Basically, the film did about three fake-outs before actually getting on with the real opening sequence.  I loved this, I love how the filmmakers can make jokes about their own franchise, know the expectations of their fans, and can play off those expectations in a humorous way, and somehow still find a way to make it work. 

Another reason I really enjoyed this film was the acting.  I’m not very familiar with a lot of the up-and-coming actors that are in Hollywood right now, and being as how I’m stubborn and spiteful, I couldn’t really care about them.  Why should I give them a chance?  They should prove to me how awesome they are before I decide if I like them or not.  Yes, I am totally that much of a movie bitch sometimes.  Anyways, there were a lot of unfamiliar faces to me, or ones I sort of recognized but haven’t really seen them from anything that memorable.  However, all the younger actors (by younger I mean my age…) did a really great job, and I for one really enjoyed their characters.  Of course, I still adored the three main actors, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette – they brought the same life to the characters the fans have grown to love, but showed us how they’ve changed, and grown up through the ten-year span that we didn’t see them.  I have to say, I was probably the happiest with Dewey’s character (Arquette), because usually he’s a fumbling, hero-like character, who means well and has a big heart, but ends up getting stabbed in the back or being more of a hindrance than a help.  However, the character has obviously grown up and become a much stronger person, and it was refreshing to see that for once.

The writing for this film again was great.  I thought it had a nice balance of suspense as well as some really humorous bits.  The ending surprised me, maybe because I was too busy trying to guess “who-dunnit”, but overall I really enjoyed it.  Without spoiling who the killer is, all I can say is you can pretty much suspect anyone, and I loved that.  My friends and I were commenting on how no one seemed to stay in the room for more than a few minutes, so anyone who left the room could’ve been the killer, DUN DUN DUNNNNN.  Sorry – I got a little excited there.  Overall, Scream 4 was a great reboot of a popular series, and was a wonderful homage to the first film.  I think it is a more successful reboot of this franchise because in reality, it is only “sort of” a reboot.  While it starts a new (possible) trilogy, it still comes all back to the first film.  It doesn’t remake the films, it dusts them off, and adds something new to it.  It brings the series to this generation, and hopefully if they make more sequels, they will still be part of the familiar storyline.  Scream 4 didn’t deviate from what worked in the previous films, and instead just adds to what works to make it better and fresh. 

So in my opinion, Scream 4 was a very good film.  Sure, it wasn’t “oscar-worthy”, but it was extremely entertaining, well-written, well-acted and overall a very well-made film.  Fans of the franchise will at least be entertained, if not impressed, and those who haven’t seen these films would be able to find something to like about it.  I’m glad my over-hyped expectations did hinder my enjoyment of this film, and that the filmmakers actually wanted to make a decent film, instead of just pumping out yet-another horror genre remake as an easy cash-grab.   

Overall Movie Rating: 4.5/5

Drag Me to Hell Review

Directed by: Sam Raimi
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver and Dileep Rao

Happy Halloween everyone!  I know for me my Halloween won’t be as fun as some people’s – there won’t be any parties for me, but I will be enjoying my night by watching some of my scary movies.  I hope everyone has a safe and fun night, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my Halloween themed reviews for this month!

Before I begin talking about the film, I just wanted to mention yet again that I will most likely mention something that spoils part of the film – so if you don’t want to have the movie spoiled, I wouldn’t recommend reading this review.  Also, I rented this film, and I watched the “unrated director’s cut” version, so some things I talk about in this review may not hold true to all versions available.

In trying to figure out how to start this review, I just want to say if you aren’t a fan of Sam Raimi’s films, especially his horror films, then you’re not going to like this film.  Being a fan myself, I loved it, and it was very evident that this was his film.  What makes a Sam Raimi horror film?  Copious amounts of gore that is both disgusting, and very fake looking – just the perfect amount for someone like me with a mild tolerance to gore.  There are also lots of tongue-in-cheek moments, and all of his films have some element of humour.  The only thing really missing I found was Bruce Campbell, which was sad, but the film was awesome enough without him.  Also, a bit later I explain what I call the “Raimi” formula – which is present in almost all of his horror films (at least the ones I’ve seen).

I want to apologize in advance in case anyone finds the quality of this review to be less than equivalent to my other reviews – I spent quite a bit of time destroying my room trying to find the notes I took while I watched this film, but alas, they have vanished.  Perhaps they’ve been…dragged to hell?  Sorry, I couldn’t resist a terrible pun, and not a very good one at that.

Drag Me to Hell centers around our protagonist Christine, a young, ambitious girl who wants to get a promotion at the bank where she currently works.  In an attempt to impress her boss, she denies an old lady, named Sylvia Ganush, another extension on her loan, and inadvertently shames Mrs. Ganush.  Sylvia Ganush is Hungarian, and being Hungarian myself, I know that we can all curse people (it’s in our blood).  So after attacking Christine in her car, she rips off a button on her sweater, and curses the owner of the button.  With that, it’s pretty easy to figure out what will ensue for poor Christine – she has a few days to rid herself of the curse or she will be taken to hell by a demon.  That’s a pretty standard curse, what Hungarian hasn’t cursed someone’s button?   

The basic attempts to “thwart” (if you will) the curse is pretty predictable I have to say, but that doesn’t really deter from the overall film experience.  I find most horror films generally predictable anyways, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t really super surprised by the film’s plot.  My love of the genre allows me to not get bored by similar plots, as long as films find other ways to be creative and entertaining.  Drag Me to Hell follows a very familiar “Raimi” horror film formula – which is:

a) Meet and get to know the characters
b) Meet the problem/antagonist/evil-fucked-thing-that-will-mess-with-the-protagonist
c) Evil thing causes scary, funny, and gory shit to happen
d) Find way to vanquish the evil aka Plan A
e) Something gets fucked up with Plan A, must find alternative and somewhat simpler way to vanquish evil (why you didn’t do this in the first place is beyond me)
f) Vanquish evil and think everything is a-ok
g) Uh-oh, you actually didn’t vanquish the evil and you’re screwed because of it.

I really don’t have a problem with this formula; and a lot of modern horror films nowadays follow this formula.  Sure it may not actually be considered the “Raimi” formula, but meh, that’s what I call it.  Most film genre’s have their own formula anyways, and horror films are probably the second most predictable (the first being chick flicks).  And while this film follows the standard formula, it still manages to keep it fresh and interesting.  I suppose the very dark humoured moments really allow me to not become bored, and the very Raimi like “twists” that occur keep me entertained.

There were a few startling moments that I really enjoyed in this film.  One of the things that happen to her while she is cursed is she starts having this epic nosebleed at work, and it starts spraying everywhere, and it even gets all over her boss.  Plus it starts coming out of her mouth, and it is just absolutely disgusting.  And it was awesome.  It was really just classic Raimi right there, it was funny and really gross, and it was gory but also really cheesy.  A perfect symbiosis of scary and hilarious – and I approve.  Another moment that was really startling was when she tries to make an offering to the demon by sacrificing her kitten.  As mentioned, I watched the director’s cut version which after researching this scene, is actually quite different from the theatrical release.  The theatrical release appears to be a bit more humorous about it, where she is just looking for her cat calling “here kitty, kitty, kitty”, and then cuts straight to her burying the cat.  The scene I saw was where you actually see her stabbing the kitten – well you don’t actually see her stabbing a cat, but you see her stabbing something off camera and lots of blood is sprayed on her – so implied kitty stabbing.  While I don’t like seeing this sort of thing at all, it was effective in setting a really chilling mood for the film, and it really showed how desperate Christine had become after this curse had begun taking serious tolls on her life.  And I know that no real cats were harmed during the filming of Drag Me to Hell, so I suppose I can let it go. 

Overall what I think really made me enjoy this film was the characterization of Christine.  I remember the first few minutes we get introduced to Christine really well; there was no dialogue, it was just watching her on her way to work.  We see her stop for a moment in front of a bakery, looking hungrily at a cupcake or baked good of sorts – a sort of sad desire that she pushes away and keeps moving along.  We see her at work, longing at the empty desk for the assistant manager position at the bank – and just the yearning in her eyes tells us enough how much she wants it.  I think it was just these few minutes that made me really like this character; the little expressions on her face, the small actions she takes can say more than just mere verbal exposition.  And though there are some other great characters, she is the one that carries the film, and just a few moments like these develop her character so much that the audience actually cares what happens to her and worries about her safety. 

On that note, the movie had very little exposition via dialogue to tell us, and in just a few simple moments it explains who the people are and what is going on.  I suppose I’m a sucker for a film that can explain something without treating the audience like an idiot.  The beauty with film is that it’s a visual way of story telling, there shouldn’t have to be so much dialogue to convey a message – and I think that this film really does a great job in explaining what it’s trying to say without spelling it out for the audience.  I find that a lot of films nowadays treat the audience like they’re stupid, making every piece of dialogue contrived and unrealistic just because the writers and filmmakers are either too lazy to find a creative visual way to tell us the same information, or because they’re too stupid to know how to do it.  I think what I love about this film, and other Sam Raimi horror films is that he knows how to work the medium to his advantage, and understands how and when to use dialogue and when it’s appropriate not to. 

I suppose I could have talked more about this film’s plot, but I’ve been avoiding a lot of details because to be honest, I want people to watch this film.  Sure, it’s definitely not for everyone, but if you enjoy horror films, it’s really a good one to watch.  And definitely if you like Sam Raimi’s other films, you’ll at the very least be entertained by this film.  The acting is well done, the writing is great, and it’s really an interesting film to watch.  I suppose I feel that I don’t need to explain this film, because this movie speaks for itself. 

ScareMeter: 3/5 “You’ll wonder if you should be cringing from the gore, shaking from fear, or laughing at the cheesiness – the combination will be a mini-orgasm”

Overall Movie Rating: 4.5/5

Paranormal Activity 2 Review – Not Bad For a Sequel

Directed By: Tod Williams

As always with any review I write, there’ll probably be some spoilers, so if you really don’t want me to spoil anything, you probably should stop reading right about now.

The film wasn’t really a sequel, it was actually more of a prequel.  The writers of the film obviously took the time to try to make this film relatable to the original.  I really dislike it when sequels have nothing to do with the original film; think of all those shitty direct to video sequels you may see at your local video store and you’ll know what I mean.  Instead of following Katie and Micah from the first film, the story follows Kristi and her family after they install a set of security cameras after an apparent break in.  Kristi is actually Katie’s sister, and we get to see this family deal with the same demon from the first film.  And as titled, paranormal activity ensues. 

I really enjoyed the pacing of this film.  I felt that those who bitched about this first one being “boring” or “slow” would probably enjoy this one more.  However, what I found with this one is that there was less emphasis on the atmosphere and suspense, which I thought was something that made the first one so amazing.  Although the second one had a lot more jump scares and a lot more moments where I jumped out of my seat or held my breath, there was something missing that the first one had.  I remember with the first one feeling like I was sinking in my seat at the theatre; I remember being mesmerized by the stillness of the theatre, the unanimous tension that surrounded me.  I came out of the last one feeling frightened and I had a sense of dread.  While this one was frightening, I didn’t get that sensation from the first one.  Although, that may be attributed to two things: first, I have become a lot more desensitized to horror films in general, and it takes more to really frighten me anymore.  Additionally, there were a lot of annoying patrons at the theatre, most of which were in their young teens, and they just really ruined the atmosphere.  There were a lot of obnoxious idiots who were laughing at inappropriate moments, whether it was because they wanted to pretend they weren’t scared, or the fact that they weren’t scared and wanted to be assholes about it.

The film kept the aesthetic of the original film, while still trying to change things up a bit.  The cinematography changes between the house’s security cameras to the family’s handheld camera.  I enjoyed the fact that for a large portion of the film the strange happenings weren’t the family’s key focus, as they didn’t really notice things were happening right away.  Also, I think the large increase of the budget really contributed to seem really neat effects that helped to change the scares in this film.  One that really creeped me out was the baby, Hunter, being levitated out of his bed. 

Paranormal Activity 2 was different enough to be entertaining and new, but familiar enough so that fans of the franchise could enjoy it.  There are some complaints I have about this film, however.

What I really enjoyed about the first film was the experience I had while at the theatre, as I had previously mentioned.  This really has to do a lot with the atmosphere of the first film: there was a lot more suspense and tension with the film, and it constantly makes you wait for something to happen.  That anticipation is what made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, for the slightest out-of-place movement to send chills down my spine.  This film started with the scares much earlier into the film, and much more frequently.  And though I enjoyed them, the lack of suspense and the increase of jump-scares actually made the film less frightening for me.  I find that when I’m left to imagine and hypothesise what will happen next, my imagination fills in the details. 

Also, while I enjoyed how this film “raise the stakes” by adding more characters to be involved, and more innocent characters to be affected by the paranormal activities (aka the baby, Hunter, and the german Shepard, Abby), I also thought it was a bit of a hindrance.  I didn’t think any of the characters where necessarily annoying or badly written, I just found that they were forgettable.  Part of the first film that was really great in my opinion was the development of the two main characters, Micah and Katie.  There were two other characters in the first one, and that’s it.  The first film took the time to develop the protagonists, to bring in conflict, to make you either like or dislike them – the film made you feel like you knew them.  And when the tension and the drama built up, you were really concerned for these characters, making the ending so terrifying and unsettling.

That brings me to the ending of this film.  As I had stated earlier, the second film is basically a prequel; it brings back elements from the first one and tries to tie everything in together.  Long story short: it is revealed that somewhere down in Kristi/Katie’s bloodline, a deal with a demon is made for wealth, and for payment, the first-born son would need to be taken.  Well apparently there had been no boys born into the family until Kristi’s son, Hunter, so now the demon is here to collect the baby.  Near the end, Kristi’s husband finds a way to “transfer” the demon to Katie, to save his son and his wife who becomes possessed near the end of the film.  The process is a success, and as this portion of the film ends, we see the first few moments of the original film played.  The movie cuts to the date whereupon Katie from the first film kills Micah as she is possessed by the demon; we see the husband watching tv, and Katie ominously stands from afar, watching.  She then snaps his neck, walks up stairs, throws Kristi into the camera (money shot, anyone?), and takes Hunter, and leaves.  And that’s the end of the film.

I have a few problems with this ending.  I didn’t mind how it showed where Katie went immediately after the end of the first film, that’s not my issue.  I felt the ending was very rushed, and because of that, it was extremely anti-climatic.  Yes, it was very frightening to see her standing in their home, covered in Micah’s blood.  But there was no build-up to this moment.  After the demon gets transferred, I felt as though the tension kind of dissipated, and was left feeling a bit unfulfilled as it tried to jump right back into the suspense of the story.  And I also felt that it was trying too hard to be like the ending of the original film.  Part of what really scared me from the first film’s ending is for one, Katie standing besides Micah for hours, watching him sleep.  Then off-screen we hear a very terrifying scream, and even more disturbing sounds as Micah runs off to help her.  And then it cut off, and there was silence, and as the footsteps became louder up the stairs, you can feel the fear of what has happened build up inside you.  That was the one element from all three endings of the original film that was the same, the off-screen screaming, and the silence that ensued.  The second film had a large amount of cameras, so we actually get to see the disturbing action of what happened.  I believe it is far more effective for the audience to see less sometimes, because what we don’t see can be more frightening.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind the ending, but it definitely wasn’t as good as the first film, and it wasn’t nearly as effective.

Another note I wanted to add was that I didn’t really enjoy how they explained the whole demon “back-story” so to say.  I kind of like it when things that are dark and disturbing have no explanation in films – it’s what makes it more frightening.  Although, it was nice that there was continuity.  Oh, and as another thing that kind of annoyed me was that there were a bunch of scenes from the trailers and viral videos that didn’t make it into the film.  That happens a lot in films, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. 

Out of all the films I’ve watched for my reviews so far, this is the one I’m most torn about.  While I found Paranormal Activity 2 to be entertaining, I’m still left feeling like it was missing something.  The first film had me up all night, sitting on my couch, afraid to go to bed.  This one didn’t feel nearly as terrifying, and I actually slept quite well the night that I saw it.  And yes, the audience probably had a huge part to play in this, as I was really distracted by the idiots around me (not my friends, though, we’re awesome).  I don’t regret seeing this film in theatres – and I would have paid to see it too (thank you Scene for giving me a free movie!).  For any fans of the original, I think most of you will enjoy it, I will say that I don’t think it’s as good as the original, but it definitely holds up.  For those who hated the first film, this one may be more to your liking, however, it is similar enough to the original that you may just want to rent it.  For those who haven’t seen the first – see the first, if not to get a better understanding and feel for this film, but for the sheer fact that it is a good film and better than this one.  I think as a sequel/prequel of a very well done film, this one is a nice addition.  Though it doesn’t surpass the original, it exceeded my expectations, as I expected it to really suck. 

ScareMeter: 4/5 “Throwing your popcorn in the air, cowering beside your friend, kind of startles”
Overall Movie Rating: 3.5/5

Extra: I just watched a “Bum Reviews” from thatguywiththeglasses.com that does a hilarious quick review of this film.  If you don’t mind spoilers, or have seen the film, definitely check it out.  It’s about 2 minutes long if that, and it’s freaking hilarious.  Check it out here!

Let Me In/Let the Right One In Quick Afterthought

I just wanted to quickly post that I had forgotten to add in.  The version of Let the Right One In that I had watched may have been the one with the “bad subtitles”.  If you do a quick google search about it, you’ll get a lot of hits about it.  I’m pretty sure I had the weirdly translated one, so that may have been why I couldn’t relate to the original film as much.  Despite some of the weird subtitle translations, it’s still a great film and I think a lot of people will enjoy it.  And if anyone is interested in someone else’s opinion, I watch an amazingly funny vlogger named Noah Antwiler, or better known as “The Spoony One”.  He has a video review of Let Me In, and if you’re interested in some extra thoughts on the film, I’d definitely recommend you watch his review