Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grimm Attempt

Director: Tod Williams
Writers: Michael R. Perry, Christopher Landon, Tom Pabst
Starring: Brian Boland, Sprague Grayden, Katie Featherston
2010 | United States | R | 91 mins

Horror used to rely on well constructed suspense, connections to characters, and the haunting notion of impending doom or frightening situations to truly scare audiences. Frankenstein is frightening because it connects with the viewer with the idea that we create evil. Rosemary's Baby is absolutely terrifying because it takes the idea of pregnancy and shows us the turmoil of a woman who is frightened by what could be inside her. The establishment and attachment to these characters in their dire situations is what gives us nightmares and what makes us cover our eyes with our hands in sheer terror. But today's idea of scary has drastically changed, and instead of a true sense of mortal dread we are shocked into jumping out of our seats by nothing other than a cheap jump scare.... BOO!

Daniel (Brian Boland) and Christie (Sprague Grayden) are new parents to a new baby boy, Hunter. Also living in the home is Ali, Daniel's daughter from a previous marriage, their nanny, and their loyal German Shepard. Upon returning home one afternoon, the family discovers their home is in complete shambles but no evidence of intruders or anything stolen is present. To ensure the safety of the family and the home, Daniel has multiple security cameras installed throughout the house. However Christie feels something is not quite right and mysterious and unexplainable happenings begin to happen and are captured on camera. Soon something far more sinister surfaces as a dark family secret emerges targeting their one-year old son, Hunter.

Paranormal Activity 2 fails miserably at being a horror film. The characters are all one dimensional and no depth is given to any of them other than their adjective description - jerk dad, scardie-pants mom, know-it-all daughter, spiritual nanny, etc. Getting to the scares, Paranormal Activity 2 relies on exactly what the first film generated and that is nothing but cheap jump scares. You don't get to really know the family, you cannot connect with the characters, it's just a series of the same camera angles over and over where nothing happens. And then a low grumbling sound slowly builds, that obviously doesn't actually exist in the scene otherwise the characters would suspect something is about to happen, and so you already suspect the BOO! coming. And when it finally arrives it really only wakes you from your sleep since you've nodded off because of how incredibly boring the film is. How this passes as "scary" these days doesn't make any sense... If your friend gave you the same type of fright in real life you are not left thinking "Oh my god! I won't sleep tonight because that was so scary!", no, you're thinking "You're such an asshole!" and you're now pissed off at your friend. Paranormal Activity 2 is that friend.

Oh, and Paranormal Activity 2 is not a sequel, but a prequel. The explanation to tie-in the film with the first, and this is not a spoiler, is that Katie is Christie's sister. And when the film expands on the demon haunting them it takes any of the unknown terror that actually existed in the first film and throws it out the window because now we have an idea of what it is and what it's motives are. And not only that but it's straight out of a Grimm fairy tale and it's completely ridiculous! The entire twist at the end is poorly thought out and heinously laughable. Paranormal Activity 2 is nothing but dull jump scares targeted at teeny-boppers who don't have the attention span to understand plot or characters.

All contents copyright 2010 Tyler Baptist

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