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John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Thirty-Nine: Paranormal Activity 2
Oh goodness. Where to begin.
In the first movie, the subtlety was what really kept us screaming. In this movie, the jump scares are
in full effect. Gone are the whispers of wind, the shadows, the growls, the three knocks on the walls
indicating that yes, the writers did their research and knew exactly how demons work.
In it's place is a movie where what could best be described as a poltergeist is knocking things over,
breaking things, and dragging people all around.
So we have a break in at Kristi and Dan's house, shortly after their son Hunter is born. Kristi is the
sister of the last movie's victim, Katie. So what we have is a prequel of sorts. The house is a mess,
so a bunch of cameras are installed to catch any burglar activity.
First we get a pool cleaner being pulled out of the pool. Then Hunter keeps waking up crying, along
with the family dog Abby having fits and growling and barking at nothing. The housekeeper Martine
knows something's up, and one night while watching the baby, gets freaked out and blesses the house, which gets her fired.
After pots and pans get tossed around, (typical poltergeists, always terrorizing the kitchen), Katie talks
to Kristi and tells her basically to ignore it. It will go away. Apparently, the same thing happened to them as children and eventually stopped. (I smell a sequel prequel!)
Dan's daughter Ali figures out that when you make a deal with a demon for either power or wealth, the demon will want the first born son of the family in return. Later, while using a Ouija board like a really smart person suspecting a ghost should always do, she asks what the demon wants, and it literally spells out Hunter. But, she ignores that, then gets locked out of the house by the demon, allowing Hunter to walk his tiny baby butt down the stairs and open the cellar door. I have no idea what that's about, but the parents blame the door being locked on Ali, despite video evidence that they refuse to look at proving it wasn't her.
I didn't mention this, but this movie is a classic example of stupid men not listening or paying attention to the obvious going on around them. If you thought Micah was bad in the previous installment, well, Dan takes the cake. After seeing the pool cleaner lift itself out of the pool on a video, he decides rather than figure out what's going on, he's going to scare Kristi with a neat trick he learned. You'll see.
Later, he tells everyone to knock off all the ghost business, even though things are falling and breaking and being knocked around. Dan, get a clue, would you?
That clue happens one night when Abby gets tossed around and Ali and Dan have to take her to the vet, leaving Kristi to get dragged down the stairs twice by the demon, and locked in the basement for an hour, before emerging possessed.
She acts completely catatonic for a little while, so Dan leaves Ali with her, and when Ali checks on Hunter, she proceeds to growl to Ali "Don't touch him." Finally, Dan comes home and watches the video of Kristi being dragged around. At first I thought he'd play a trick on Ali by tying a string around her legs and dragging her down the stairs, but no. He wises up and calls Martine, who tells him the spirit in Kristi can be transferred to another family member using some weird ritual, something about burning a picture of that person. (Um, like a picture found in a previous installment. Yeah.) Also, she gives him a cross to drive the demon out of Kristi.
So they make their way down to the basement armed with a camera and no flashlights, as the electric goes out and, of course, they wait until it's pitch black outside to do any of this. They drive the demon out of Kristi after some jump scares, and it's transferred to...
Katie. (See "Paranormal Activity" review for what happens next.)
After Paranormal Activity's most acceptable ending is over, Katie then wonders over to Dan's house, snaps his neck, throws Kristi into the wall and steals Hunter. The end. Except that Paranormal Activity 4 is coming out, which will connect all of these events, including the third installment, I think. By the way, we'll have that review coming up on October 20th, so stay tuned.
All in all, so far, this series has had three different feels to it. The first was completely subtle. Everything was implied until all of the sudden, it was right in your face. This movie has explosive acts committed by the demon/poltergeist. And that's apparently what the creators thought would scare people. The kitchen doors all blowing open at the same time is really the only part of this movie that scared me, but it was a small jolt. It doesn't have the same jarring, unnerving, nervous feel as the first one did.
And the third installment? Pure unadulterated cheese. You'll see.