More of the same feeling like even less, the quickie prequel to last year’s fluke smash again mines a couple jolts and tons of tedium from black-and-white surveillance camera tapes of damnation’s most annoyingly passive-aggressive demon.
Set a couple months before the events of the original, Paranormal Activity 2 focuses on the sister of doomed Katie Featherston. Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and newborn baby Hunter live with dullard Dad (Brian Boland) and his daughter from a previous marriage (Molly Ephraim). The interactions are purposely banal, in keeping with the tiresome gimmick that we’re watching recently discovered footage of people who chose to videotape every inane conversation they’ve ever had.
The budget’s increased from 11 grand to $2.75 million this time around, but the scares remain doggedly lo-fi. The demon initially comes off more like a shitty roommate, turning the lights on, leaving the cabinets open and making loud noises in the kitchen while everybody’s trying to sleep. The ante is upped for the sequel, as the otherworldly intruder sometimes takes the automated pool cleaner out of the water .
After a presumed break-in, the family’s house is outfitted with six security cameras, offering director Tod Williams more angles from which to recycle the same gag: Static wide shot of a dark room at night. Eerie silence on the soundtrack for minutes on end. Eventually a door shuts really loudly. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Like most misbegotten horror sequels, Paranormal Activity 2 overcomplicates the mythology, using a helpful Latina maid who knows about evil spirits and the tween stepdaughter's Googling plot points.
The only real mystery here is how a movie that makes such a big deal out of being set in 2006 would allow characters to speak in Jersey Shore slang and quote this past spring’s Clash Of The Titans remake.