Friday, May 6, 2011

Things I’ve Noticed: Horror Sequels can be tricky

I watched Paranormal Activity about half a year ago, and earlier this week checked out the sequel from my local library. For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, the premise is that the audience is being presented with actual footage of paranormal events surrounding a woman in the first film and a toddler in the second. The first movie is made almost exclusively from the point of view of the new camera purchased by the haunted woman’s boyfriend and the second film is made almost exclusively from the security cameras installed throughout the home of the toddler.

The first film was a lot of fun in a sort of Blair Witch Project vein, and there were more than a few scares throughout – without going into spoilers I will say that the movie is worth a watch, but maybe only if you can watch it on TV or get it cheap.

The sequel was pretty interesting to me for a couple of reasons: 1) rather than an actual sequel it is almost 90% Prequel – featuring events that happen a few months before the first film and having a two minute chunk taking place after the first film, and 2) The movie does a great job of building suspense and getting you genuinely nervous for the family. My only complaint about the sequel was in the casting – and this is tricky, the lead, played by Sprague Grayden (who I liked in Jericho and loved in Sons of Anarchy), does an incredible job playing the toddlers mother, but as she was an actress I recognized from other films, her casting placed a barrier between me and total immersion in the experience. The first film was cast with unknowns, so I could suspend my disbelief and pretend that this might have happened, but my familiarity with the lead in the second just kept reminding me that this was a movie.

In the end, both films are fun, and I was happy to see a sequel that played with chonological order as well as overall concept, actually adding an interesting layer to the franchise.

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