Friday, January 27, 2012

Paranormal Activities 2 and 3

Get out your handheld cameras and Ouija boards, it's a double-demon review with Activities de la Paranormals 2 and 3!  Get ready because this is a long one!
I was so SO tempted to just draw nothing.
I saw the first one a while back. I enjoyed it and thought it was pretty scary, even if the main guy was a total dick who took me out of the experience with his dickishness. [AUDIBLE SIGH] But I just recently shotgunned both of the paranormal sequels with friends, for some reason. I thought one of them was good. Can you guess which one?! 

Even though 3 is the prequel, we'll start with 2. Paranormal Activity 2 follows Kristi and Daniel Rey, their daughter, Ali, and their newborn baby, Hunter, as they start experiencing strange events. It starts with their house being completely wrecked, so, being the rich, paranoid, white people that they are, they put up a whole network of surveillance cameras around the house. Things just go downhill from there.

This movie actually takes place both before and after the first, trying to explain where the demon came from and how it ended up in the first movie, which is a cool idea. The problem is they try to ramp it up from the first one with more cameras and more stuff going on, but what it adds up to is more NOTHING HAPPENING. When stuff actually started to happen, I was fairly certain it was the middle of the movie, but no, it's the last third or fourth of it. They always cut to multiple camera shots, especially one shot of the pool, but then they do absolutely nothing with the pool. It's quite frustrating.  

And the stuff they do do, I don't get. The whole idea is that this time, the demon is after the wee baby Hunter. Somewhere near the middle, the demon locks everyone out and actually gets the baby in his demon hands, levitating the wee baby Hunter out of his cage and, somehow, getting him to crawl down to the basement (which, how exactly, NO ONE sees on camera), but then he lets the wee baby Hunter free and goes the rest of the movie wrecking shit, as if nothing happened. Excuse me, movie, but what was the point of all that?

What's become a staple for this movie is having one character who believes in ghosts/demons and having the other character in charge be pessimistic about it until it's too late. In this movie, it's the father firing the house keeper (who's trying to ward off spirits) and never believing the daughter or mother when crazy stuff (ON CAMERA, NO LESS) happens. He doesn't quite get to the levels of dickishness of Micah from the first movie, but he gets pretty damn close. He almost ruins it, but he manages to come through at the end.

I do like how they alluded to the basement as being the source of evil (as basements always are), having the dog scratch at it as if something was down there, and never having any camera shots down there until the very end when all hell breaks lose.  And I did enjoy the first ending that wrapped everything up nicely. But then they kept going and ruined the whole damn thing. It's as if the director went, "Hold up, Dog. Did we just conclude with a nice ending? We can't have that in our horror movie!", and then recorded an extra five minutes of random footage. I have to throw up a **SPOILER WARNING** from this point on.

They actually manage to exorcise the demon from the house and everything is fine. Then they show footage from the beginning of the first movie to connect the two events, which I like. It explains that, since the demon couldn't have this sister, he's going to the other one. And that's all fine and good, but then they cut to three days after the events of the first movie. 

Katie shows up at their house and, apparently, they still have the cameras up because...hey, whatever...they're rich. Katie comes up behind Daniel and snaps his neck. You know those really cheesy neck snaps they do in action movies where the guy has super kung-fu? Or better yet, the cheesy neck snaps they do in comedy skits to mock those cheesy neck snaps? Yeah, that's what Katie does to him. Then, she force-pushes Kristi, who's holding the wee baby Hunter (who is completely unharmed by this somehow, even though it just killed a fully grown human), and nonchalantly walks out. It completely ruined it for me. 


And another thing, I love reading as much as the next person, but when you know creepy stuff is going down, you can't turn on the TV in your big-ass house? Crank up some music? No? Just sit and read in dramatic silence? Ok then. It made sense in the first one because they were sleeping through half the movie, but here? Who does that?

Suffice it to say I did not fully enjoy Rainy Day Paranormal Activities 2. On to 3!

This is a prequel to both films and explains why there's a demon in the first place. It's 1988 and Katie and Kristie are both kids. Kristie starts talking to an imaginary friend and their father, Dennis, starts noticing some weird things going on. Being a wedding photographer, he starts setting up a couple of his cameras around the house, and then THINGS JUST GO RIGHT THE FUCK TO HELL.

I rather enjoyed this one more. It has a lot to do with the movie being set in the 80's and being a perfect recreation of that era. It's like I'm watching home movies, which I already think are creepy. I mean, they have Teddy Ruxpin! TEDDY FUCKING RUXPIN! In a horror movie! Genius. They could've just had Ruxpin possessed for the whole movie and it would have been perfect. 

Being set in the 80's, it gets away with a lot of stuff by showing how they didn't have that technology way back when. No one has cell phones or internet, they have to look up stuff at the library! They don't even have affordable video cameras; Dennis has to fashion a moveable camera by strapping it to an oscillating fan. That is some Macguyver level ingenuity. What's better is that it's a great suspense technique. The camera goes back and forth from one end of the room to the other and you're constantly wondering where and when something is going to happen. 

It also helps that they start off with the weird stuff much earlier and keep it at a steady, creepy pace. Kristi's invisible friend is always there. You can feel him as a constant presence. And when it goes off the rails at the end, it REALLY GOES RIGHT THE FUCK OFF THE RAILS. Those last 20 minutes are the scariest, I think, of all three films and more than makes up for a collective 6 hours of nothing happening. They give you a good, creepy idea of what's going on and why without showing you everything outright. 

In this movie, the cynicism comes from the mom, which I was really excited about. Finally! Guys aren't the jerks all the time! And it makes a bit more sense in this one because she just straight up refuses to watch any of the footage, and she's the you better turn off that damn ghost-demon nonsense! 

Negative points have to be given, though, for the fact that pretty much nothing in the trailer happened in the movie. I hadn't seen the trailer in a while and completely forgot about it, but watching it again, it's crazy that none of those things happened. Did they make a whole other alternate movie? Why was so much of this cut out? I would probably have been more pissed had I seen the movie directly after watching the trailer. Though, now I'm curious about the DVD extras.

So in conclusion, 2 was meh. Only watch if you're a die-hard Paranormal fan. 3 was good and could be enjoyed even if you haven't seen the other two.

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