This is the sequel-prequel to the first Paranormal Activity. It takes place slightly before the first movie and also slightly after: you could do a cut of the two movies with most of the first one taking place before the closure to this movie. That’s both good (because it fills in some stuff) and bad (because it suffers a little for trying to fit).
The cast is similar, in that we get a few folks back from the first movie: Katie and Micah. But it expands to Katie’s sister, who is retconned a bit for this role. As these movies go on there are several small timeline-esque glitches that bother me, including how they talk about different people in the past and how those things truly play out.
The effects and such are almost exactly the same type as the first movie. That’s a nice touch because it allows for a lot more imagination, if you can stand not seeing the monster. There’s a lot of involvement from the extended family here that gives a good deal of direction the series could go, especially given their limited use of effects: the budget doesn’t have to expand, just the location.
With an invisible villain the entire weight of selling it falls on the shoulders of the cast, and they sell it well in this movie. As well as it could be done. The requirement of found footage also makes it a lot harder to sell the story, and yet they do get it all across in a very believable way. If you can suspend your disbelief to buy into the haunting then you should enjoy this movie.
This movie and the series at large are purely meant to slowly creep you the hell out. There’s no nudity or gore, like many horrors (especially the B-movies and slashers I’ve reviewed to this point), there’s not a lot of charm or humor to them. The goal is to get you good and creeped out before the awful reveal/twist at the end. They hit that mark pretty good here, perhaps better than the first one, but they also do a good job of crafting a path for sequels that is definitely better than the first movie.
I enjoy these movies even if they aren’t my favorite horror series: they took an established genre (found footage) and did something really new with it, and there have been a lot of clones and parodies since. A lot of the horror world could do with a revival as successful as this series made. Solid A- movie here.
I’ll be back next week with more of the same: while we’re out of Conjuring and Annabelle movies, we’ve got plenty of the Blumhouse movies left to go and one movie about a nun…
Running Time: An hour forty one.
Acting: Overall pretty good.
Effects: Minimal, but played well.
Violence: Slight and toward the end.
Gun Use: No.
Monster Type? A demon.
Pacing: Pretty good — slow build with a quick turn around.