Will the camera be the only thing shaking during this movie?
I like to think of myself as someone who is wise to the conventions of the horror movie. I get what it is doing. I can act superior when the movie sets up an obvious jump scare, watching the moment pass with no reaction as others shriek and squeal around me. Gore does not bother me in the least. I can watch a man get his head split in two by any number of insidious devices and happily continue eating my popcorn. So, knowing that, I want you to take my word as the word of someone who does not scare easily when it comes to horror movies.
Paranormal Activity 2 scared the crap out of me.
Well, not the crap exactly. But I can easily testify that this is one of the most downright disturbing movies I’ve seen in a while. Also, though it often relies on the jump scare, this movie somehow found a way around my earlier mentioned defenses. I more then once found myself literally jumping in my seat. After taking a few moments to collect myself, I had to applaud the movie. Well done Paranormal Activity 2. Well done indeed…
The story of this movie is actually a prequel to the first movie. So really its Paranormal Activity 0.5. If you’ll recall, the first movie dealt with a woman who had been harassed by a malignant demon on and off for her entire life. This movie focuses on her sister, who has just given birth to a baby boy named Hunter. And what do you know, that pesky demon from the first movie (Second? This is a prequel afterall. Screw it.) becomes dangerously fascinated with baby Hunter. Pretty soon pots and pans are getting thrown about, pool cleaners become displaced and everyone feels like there is something horrible happening in this simple suburban home.
What really makes this movie scary isn’t even the scary stuff. Sure, seeing people being ruthlessly assaulted by an unrelenting invisible force of pure evil is scary and all. But its just plain disturbing when sandwiched between the complete normalcy of the scenes showcasing the day to day life of this family. People go to work, have small talk, have boyfriends over, mug for the camera that is everywhere in this house, take care of the baby. But then night comes and the mood completely shifts in an instant. But the audience is kept in the dark just as much as the family. You must remember, this movie is done Blair Witch style. Its pretending to be real footage found by the police. There is no music. There are no cues something is happening or about to happen. You remember when I said that this movie found a way past my carefully constructed horror movie defenses? This is how. This movie is the perfect poker player. There are no tells. Its just calm…calm…calm…calm…caOH SHIT SOMETHING’S HAPPENING!!! And what makes it worse is that sometimes the creepy stuff starts out incredibly subtle. You have to be looking at every inch of the screen so that you can spot the slightest disturbance…even if you kind of don’t want to be paying that much attention to the screen. That might be the movie’s greatest success. It forces you to pay attention, and when it knows it has your eyes glued to the movie, BAM! There goes the neighborhood.
I cannot recommend this movie enough. This is what horror movies should be. If you want a really scary movie during the Halloween season, get to the theater right damn now. This isn’t blood and gore. This isn’t well telegraphed jump scares. This is pure, unrelenting unease, a terror that worms its way into your mind and makes you want to look away…yet also making sure you can’t. And that’s just the way it should be.