10 November 2010

Paranormal Activity 2

Directed by: Tod Williams
Written by: Michael R. Perry, Christopher B. Landon & Tom Pabst

Paranormal Activity 2 is a lot like Poltergeist, except it’s bad. Like that 1982 ghostie, this newest installment of a fledgling franchise explores the origins of American prosperity, and shares a fear of middle-class signifiers: here, toys that come to life and, in its best moment, possessed cabinets. But the movie of which we’re most reminded, of course, is the franchise founder. And this movie’s failures just illuminate the triumphs of the first. Paranormal Activity père succeeded by virtue of its minimalism, exploiting in tandem its expert one-upmanship pacing and the tyranny of the long take: the audience was imprisoned in the unedited shot, with the gripping guarantee that whatever scare director Oren Peli had in store of them would be creepier than the last. Like any well-behaved horror sequel, this part-two has more—more characters, more cameras—because new director Tod Williams doesn't understand that the aesthetic only works with less.

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