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Movie Review: ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ causes paranoia

Michael Phillips
LV Life Editor

Friday, Oct. 22, the sequel to the 2009 hit “Paranormal Activity” arrived in theaters.

After viewing it, I began to suspect that every shadow leading up to my room was a warning of impending danger or a creature preparing to attack me from around the corner.

The first “Paranormal Activity” was a limited release film debuted in 2008 from the mind of director and producer Oren Peli.

The film was made on a budget of $15,000 but soon the film’s popularity grew earning it $193 million by 2009.

The first and the second movies were both filmed using a filming style called “found footage” which is often associated with the 1999 horror film “The Blair Witch Project.”

Found footage is where the events of a film are seen by the audience through a camera, making the events seem much more authentic.

The first thing I noticed about “Paranormal Activity 2” was the larger budget, as well as perspective.

The film felt more refined and detailed in both the setting and the nature of the filming, especially since the directing role had switched from Peli to Tod Williams.

Aside from the scares, the films plot structure was surprising and engrossing. “Paranormal Activity 2” served as a both a sequel and a prequel explaining things from the first film while further developing the overall story.

What “Paranormal Activity 2” does better than the first is create a haunting atmosphere for the film. Instead of relying on just a camcorder like the first film, the audience is shown events going on in the film from several surveillance camera’s in and outside of the house.

The use of the different cameras highlighted the films tension and aided in the execution of the surprise moments.

While watching “Paranormal Activity 2,” I could not help but realize that it is a film that shines much more in the movie theater than it probably would on DVD.

The movie encourages the audience to pay attention and focus on the shadows, movement and placement of items in the film’s scenes.

In the theater responses like, ‘look over there it’s moving,’ were welcomed and only added to the creepiness of William’s directing.

The difference between “Paranormal Activity 2” and other horror movies is the amount of dialogue.

The movie progresses through the dialogue, and the plot relies on speaking much more than a normal suspense thriller would.

Some may complain that there is too much talking for a horror movie, but one must regard “Paranormal Activity 2” as more of a psychological experience than an average blood and gore thriller such as “Halloween.”

Leaving the theater I realized that I had not been this frightened in a long time.

This is a result of the trick “Paranormal Activity 2” and its predecessor plays on the audience. Instead of only using the found footage style to make the film appear more realistic, producers added footage to play off of the viewer’s paranoia.

The incorporation of the surveillance camera angles allowed audience members to not only see the characters but to see the things they could not, the same things we may not be seeing in our own lives.

“Paranormal Activity” plays off the fear of the presence of a force or thing sneaking up from behind, creeping up our stairs or dwelling in our homes.

I left the West Covina Edwards theater that night paranoid. Even though I knew these events were fictional, I could not help but be paranoid by the paranormal,which is why I know “Paranormal Activity 2” delivered.

Michael Phillips can be reached at

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