Let me begin by saying I’ve been anxiously waiting to see this film for almost a year. But before I give you my thoughts on it, let me share a little background on my screening experiences for both the original and the sequel. I first saw ‘Paranormal Activity’ a little over a year ago at the Telluride Film Festival. It was an advance screening of a film very few people had heard of, and was supposed to be terrifying. It was scheduled to play outside at 10:00 PM and the brief synopsis in the guide said very little, but warned that we not plan on walking home alone after the film. Well, I’m a sucker for good promotion, so I was sold. Unfortunately due to rain, the screening was cancelled. I ended up seeing it the next afternoon indoors at a so-so theater with a so-so crowd, and the experience just wasn’t right. So I only found the film to be decent, and derivative of ‘The Blair Witch Project’. However, when I saw it a second time a few months later in Orlando with my buddy David, and no one else in the theater, I enjoyed it much, much more, and now see it as one of the best horror films of recent years. I tell you this story to point out the obvious: the environment you see a movie in has a huge impact on how much you enjoy it.
Cut to tonight, where I just had one of the worst screening experiences I can recall. There were only about 20 people in the theater and about 16 of them were under the delusion they were in their living room and they could therefore have non-stop conversation at full volume for the entire length of the film. And that’s not uncommon at this particular theater (The Rave at 40th and Walnut.) I absolutely despise seeing films at The Rave. My experiences there range from horrible to just pretty bad. But if you want to see a non-art film at a movie theater in Philly then sadly you have little choice.
Well, despite the ridiculously poor environment, ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ was actually decent. It’s not nearly as good as the original, and that was to be expected, but it wasn’t the debacle that the ‘Blair Witch Project 2’ was. I won’t say anything about the plot, but I will say it’s a nice companion piece to the first one. And just like the first, the film begins innocuously enough and then slowly builds to terrifying. That seems to be the format for a lot of the documentary style horror films, which gets a bit old, but it still works. And I like that they didn’t get too fancy and dump a ton more money into the sequel. (According to IMDB, The budget on the first one was only $11,000 and the film made almost $200 Million. The budget on the second was $2.75 Million but it still looks about as raw as the original, and that’s a good thing. I’m not quite sure where the money went to be honest.)
In summary, I enjoyed the film but it’s not as good as the first one. So, if you liked the original I definitely recommend checking this one out. Just not at the Rave.