Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2 or The Best Nanny Ever

SPOILERS AHEAD: This post is rife with spoilers since we discuss our thoughts on everything in this film. If you want to be surprised when watching the movie for the first time, stop reading now.

Bloody Blondes: Quick synopsis - Paranormal Activity 2 takes place a few weeks before the events of the original Paranormal Activity. We are introduced to the Reys family. The wife is the sister to Katie from the original PA. The Reys have a new baby boy in the family and strange things begin to occur around him. After the home is wrecked in what appears to be a break-in, the family installs surveillance cameras around the house. These cameras, along with a handheld to chronicle the milestones of the baby, capture the strange occurrences around the home.

Kelly: I thought Paranormal Activity 2 was a good solid movie and managed not to be a total rip off of the original. Granted, you're going to have a general repetition of themes and actions, given that it's basically an origin story, but it still managed to stand on its own for the most part.

Patrice: Going into this movie I did not know it was a prequel to the other story until they showed Micah “days before his death". I did not immediately figure out how the Part 2 story was going to join up with the previous story in Part 1. I had heard it was good without knowing anything about the story line at all, because I did not want to know before seeing it. I was expecting it to feel similar, and it certainly did have that same waiting, waiting, waiting vibe. 

Kelly: I had read the spoilers ahead of time, but it still managed to scare me, even knowing what was coming. Without a soundtrack to clue you in that something's about to jump, and even having read ahead of time about certain things, it still managed to be creepy.

Patrice: I liked the wider camera angles they were able to get with the security camera premise. I did the same thing in the second one that I did in the first one, which is that I kept searching the screen top to bottom, trying to catch a glimpse of whatever was happening. The slow pace, that waiting that made it stretch out into agonizing anticipation really works for me. No doubt why I also like Asian horror so much - it's not about the action so much as the waiting, build-up, and tension!

Kelly: You know what was one of the best examples of that? The very end, when the screen was blank. You just sat there, afraid to look at the screen because you were sure something was going to pop up. People in our theater were getting all antsy and there was nervous laughing. No one was moving because they didn't want to miss anything, so we all sat there staring at a giant black screen.

Patrice: I thought the same thing.... it's like, it can't just end... something else has to happen. Unfortunately for us, the theater we went to was nearly empty. Of course this was a Sunday at dinner time, so...

Patrice: I have some random thoughts and questions: I get that this couple, the Reys, is a second family situation - that is, the father was married to someone else and they had the older girl, and Kristi is the second wife who has the baby with him. So was that a plot point just so that the teenager would be old enough to research the step mom and babysit and all that? Seems rather... contrived.

Kelly: My best guess is yeah, pretty much.

Patrice: Well, I guess I'll give 'em credit for figuring out how to blend those things together.

Kelly: That was the only thing about the movie that I didn't like, that the step daughter managed to figure out the whole first-born-son's-soul-goes-to-the-devil pact and all. It was overly convenient, but I guess you have to throw that in there to keep a big gaping plot hole from being created.

Patrice: Yeah, simply because she was curious and looked it up on line. The story itself was never gonna be able to cover that. 

Kelly: That was really the only thing that was flimsy for me. Other than that, I appreciated the fact that it wasn't a step by step repeat of what happened in the first one. There were only a couple of the same noises, the train-like sounds, that were done in this film and they didn't redo the whole standing and staring by the bed bit. This one had its own creeptastic events. Like the pool cleaner. I caught that immediately. I leaned over to my husband and asked "Is he taking the pool cleaner out or what?"

Patrice: I know! I said from the beginning, WTF? Has no one noticed that every morning the pool vacuum is out of the pool? And then they almost tried to get us to believe that the dog might have been dragging it out. Yeah, I totally caught that right away.

Kelly: Damn we're awesome.

Patrice: I loved the scene where the dad figured out how to get the thing to pop up out of the pool and scared the shit out of the wife and daughter.

Kelly: That was funny, but I couldn't tell if they were trying to show us that the pool cleaner really wasn't the demon, it was just a fluke, another thing to lead the father down the path of doubting Thomas, since he was able to manipulate it himself so easily.

Patrice: I think it was misdirection, like the dog, since the video clearly showed it climbing out of the pool unassisted. 

Kelly: Never have pool supplies been so creepy.

Patrice: Ha ha! Okay, so a couple of other things....The teenager/boyfriend/Ouija thing - any significance at all? Were we to believe it made any difference, other than the fact that it started to spell out "Hunter"?

Kelly: I think maybe that was to help the step daughter figure out the whole first born son connection. That way, when she did her searching, she could put two and two together.

Patrice: Any idea what happened to Kristi in the basement? What was with the scratchings on the door? Did she do it? They never said what it might have spelled out, or if Kristi even did it. She just had a bite mark and then she was possessed.... And my friend Johnny had one good question: if Kristi was possessed by the demon, why didn't she just take off with the baby right then? I was trying to think of a reason why she just sort of went into a trance and the demon didn't act until it was transferred to Katie. Which leads me to my question, arguably the biggest question I have about the movie, and that is: What the fuck was going on in the basement?

Kelly: I think they just did that because there was no camera in the basement, so shit had to go down in there, gotta leave something for the imagination. As for the possession, in the first movie, Katie would stand by the bed for long stints over a couple of days, so her possession took a little bit to take hold, it wasn't immediate, either.

Patrice: I mean, it was just some crashing around, and you see the kid toddling around, and then afterward, what's-his-name burns the photo of Katie. I was thinking that there was some sort of ritual, based on whatever the nanny told him.

Kelly: Maybe we're supposed to take from it that the demon has to learn to be comfortable in the skin and get itself situated before it starts stealing babies? That was a little bit weak for me, but it wasn't too over the top unbelievable, and given that it’s trying to be its own movie while riding the wave of the original, it worked well enough.

Patrice: That was kind of my thought, getting comfortable in the skin first - either that or it couldn't act in the body of the kid's own mother. But that doesn't really make sense either, as it could have just as easily jumped anyone else who was in the house. And going back to the nanny - what was her name again? Since when do you trust a life/death demon situation on a random Mexican nanny? I just thought that was a little bit odd. What was her name?

Kelly: Martine?

Patrice: Why would you not call an expert in demonology, if you really believed that was going on? I'm not saying any of this took away from the movie; I didn't really care how hole-y the plot was.

Kelly: I got a kick out of the fact that in the original, you had paranormal experts that ran kicking and screaming out of there, but here you have a woman who's maybe making minimum wage watching after your rug rat who is willing to risk life and limb to rid your house of demons and you toss her out to the curb!

Patrice: Yeah, especially considering how hard it is to find a good nanny! He changed his tune with quickness when he realized that she was right. Johnny and I were flexing our high school Spanish to translate as they went along... "Oh, she said that they're HERE" "He said we don't BELIEVE", etc. Dorks!

Kelly: So they were regurgitating Poltergeist?

Patrice: Well no, but you know it was pretty much the same convo repeated in English.

Patrice: I had no idea until the credits that Oren Peli didn't do the sequel, which I guess is a compliment for this crew. So, what else about this movie?

Kelly: It gave me nightmares! When the movie was over, I knew it had creeped me out, but I didn't think it had really scared me. However, that night, I kept waking up, seeing Katie's freaky face. And I kept having to check on my baby to make sure no demons had snatched her up.

Patrice: Weird. I got a satisfactory amount of surprise while watching it. I get really emotionally involved when I watch a movie. My pal, on the other hand, never flinched, which is so annoying. With so few people in the theater, you couldn't hear anyone else really gasping or whatever. I'm totally reactionary in movies. I was getting into all the damn previews.

Kelly: We saw it with an interactive audience. The hubby hates that, but I love it for horror movies. "Girl, don't go in the basement, girl!"

Patrice: Oh no, I can only take so much of that. That kind of thing breaks the mood for me.

Kelly: I love watching horror movies in Atlanta! I love that sort of audience, as long its genuine, you know?
It has to be a genuine from the gut reaction, not someone spouting to hear themselves. Toward the end of the movie, there was a lot of that going on and it was hysterical. I was even doing it!

Patrice: I just don't want people talking to the screen - the gasping, squealing, whatever is to be expected, you know, the actual noises you make when startled or scared, but not commentary. Makes me crazy!

Kelly: Final verdict for me - I really liked it. It was worth the money for an evening showing, and being that I'm pretty damn cheap, that's saying a lot.

Patrice: I got exactly what I expected from it, too. It was scary, and creepy, and not completely predictable for me. I had an idea what the deal was, but was not sure how the story would play out. Perhaps a third installment? A franchise?

Kelly: Hmm, I don't know about that. I think the only thing they could do at this point would be to follow the step-daughter or see what actually happens to the baby. But I can't figure out how you'd do that with surveillance and hand held cameras, so that would need to be done in a different format from the original, as in Blair Witch 2, and we know how well that worked out...

Patrice: I was thinking that maybe they could have other families experience the demon thing, but with some different story lines - the same phenomenon, but unrelated to the original family. If there could be multiple Freddies, Jasons, Michael Meyerses, Chuckies, etc., why not?

Kelly: But then the amount of movies would be endless. Great for potential earnings, but as far as the storyline goes, I don't think that would entice me.

Patrice: If they could continue being good... hard to say.

Bloody Blondes: Good movie, good scares, good times. Go see it.


  1. So what did the scratch marks on the basement door spell out? I can't figure that out!

  2. The scratch marks spelled out "Meus", which is latin for Mine. A comment on the possession, i'm sure, though totally unnecessary. Actually, there were quite a few more plot holes than what you two pointed out, a lot more, such as the final fate of the dog, did they just keep the anny fired after she helped them because she wasn't there at the end, did the nanny not expect the demon to then possess the sister and then come after them again. Other things like that.

    And what exactly was the purpose of the pool cleaner being removed, besides the fact that the demon was doing it? The demon doesn't like self-cleaning pools?

  3. Is the Nanny still under the bookcase, or is she still in basement or neither of the above, soooooooo, what happened to the Nanny...,.

  4. i have a question how did katie snatch the baby if she died in the first movie??

  5. I think the nanny was in there to introduce a character that would act as a buffer between the unknown demon and the family, to bring in the folk mythology for some colorful mumbo jumbo and then to exit, leaving them to face the unknown alone. She just added a layer to the story. I think we are meant to assume that she got too freaked out and left, which is why we don't see her again. It's not really vital to the outcome; like so many elements of this movie, it's just a way to misdirect your attention and to carry the story between the scary bits.

    As for the pool cleaner, I think it's a device to demonstrate the weirdness. No, it had nothing to do with the baby, but it was pretty freaky and just added to the sense that the evil was building up to something.

    And if you read this review, we started out by explaining that PA2 is a prequel to the events that occurred in the first movie, Paranormal Activity. Katie did not die - she was possessed by the demon that was passed to her from her sister in whatever the ritual was in which Kristi's husband burned Katie's picture.

  6. When Katie's picture is burned, it was done as part of a ritual to exorcise the demon from their house. If you remember in the first film, Micah found the picture in the attic, above the master bedroom. Somehow, this was supposed to be planted there to lure the demon to Micah's house.

    However, in the first movie, when Micah shows the picture to Katie, she states that she hadn't seen that picture since their house burned when she was a girl. The burnt edges of the picture were supposed to make the audience believe that this picture was a remnant of the fire, a symbol from the demon indicating that it was responsible for burning Katie's home.

    This was a big plot hole in the movie as well because the original explanation of the picture was creepy in its own right. When PA2 tried to play off that picture and show that it was planted in Micah's attic to drive the demon there, well, it just doesn't work. I mean, how is the dad or sister going to get into Micah's attic to plant the photo without detection?

    I love horror films and I don't mean to be a swamp donkey about PA2, but I think the first PA was clearly the better of the two and probably the best horror film in quite some time. :)

  7. I agree with you, JR - the first one was one of the best scares I've had in a while - the theater was packed, nobody knew what was coming, and we all screamed and gasped in unison. Talk about tension! I enjoyed the second one, but it didn't have quite the edge to it.

  8. In regards to the basement, again, Hunter spends sometime down there when the daughter gets locked out of the house. What is he doing down there?


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