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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Paranormal Activity 2

February 18th, 2011

Paranormal Activity 2 - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

When Paranormal Activity came out in 2009 and earned nearly $200 million worldwide on a production budget of just $15,000, you knew there would be a sequel. The fact that Paranormal Activity 2 came out the next year was a bit of a surprise, but does the short turnaround mean the sequel is an inferior product?

The Movie

First a note, this sequel is not really a prequel, although it does show events that happened before the first movie, it also show events that happened after the first movie. It's a sprequel.

The film starts with an intertitle that pushes the "Found Footage" myth, which is cute. I'm not a fan of films that pretend to be real, but this is cute.

The plot starts with Ali filming the arrival of her new brother, Hunter, as her mother, Kristi and father, Dan, come home from the hospital. We also meet the nanny, Martine, and get a tour of the house, etc. Later on, after spending a day with Katie, the sister / aunt, they return home to find the place burgled. Their home is trashed, but the only thing stolen is a necklace Katie gave Kristi. In response, Dan sets up security cameras in the house, which is when the weird stuff really starts up.

Or to be more accurate, it starts up eventually. At first it's just small things like furniture moving, but Kristi can't shake the feeling that there's something more to the burglary and she discusses it more with Katie she mentions the weird things that happened to them as kids when they used to do seances. The strange events start to put a real strain on Kristi, while Ali actually starts a little optimistic about the whole haunting thing. Only Dan remains skeptical. But with more and more strange events happening, even his skepticism wanes.

So that's the basic plot, how's the execution? Let me put it to you this way. Have you seen Paranormal Activity? Then you've seen Paranormal Activity 2. The problem is, if you've seen the first one, you are less likely to be sucked into the atmosphere of the second one, at least that was the case with me. The first time around, there was always a chance it was in their imagination, but having seen the ending of Paranormal Activity, you know there really is a haunting happening here, so half the suspense is gone. Some of the technical aspects of the execution have improved, thanks in large part to a budget that was substantially higher, if still minuscule compared to the average wide release. (Hell, it's small compared to a lot of limited releases.)

If you are into jump scares, then you will likely enjoy this film. Just keep your expectations in check.

The Extras

The only extra on the DVD is a short collection of deleted scenes, while the Blu-ray has no exclusive extras on the disc, aside from the rated and unrated version of the movie. Both the video and the audio are subpar for a first run release, but that's due more to aesthetic choices than weak transfer. After all, the movie is supposed to be found footage shot using consumer level equipment, so you can't expect it to look like a Hollywood blockbuster. The Blu-ray costs 50% more, but it comes with a DVD / Digital copy of the film, so you could think of it as buying the DVD and getting the Blu-ray for just $8. It depends heavily on whether or not you use the DVD version enough to be worth it.

The Verdict

Outside the front door. Looking in at the pool. A shot at the kitchen. The opposite view of the kitchen. Straight at the front door. And finally Hunter's room. We see those six shots over and over again. Depending on your personal tastes, this could either build the tension masterfully, or put you over the edge. I'm somewhere in the middle. Paranormal Activity 2 is a good film, but not a great film, while neither the DVD nor the Blu-ray offer enough extras to lift the value from a rental to a purchase.

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Filed under: Video Review, Paranormal Activity 2