I had and have mixed feelings about Paranormal Activity. I am always happy when a horror film does well at the box office, and even happier when it becomes a cultural phenomenon. I am always happy when a low-budget film and filmmakers make it big. What bothered me about Paranormal Activity, and I know I am not the only one, are the lead characters. Katie and Micah are assholes who can't decorate. There, I said it. I disliked them. I know people like them, and I wouldn't want to see a film about them. I am no Martha Stewart but come on: their house had no personality. And neither did they. But, the film had a couple of good scares and some weird mojo. I admit, I had a hard time sleeping that night. I kept being worried that I would wake up and my husband would be standing over the bed staring at me. I did wake up, but just my cat was staring at me, which is pretty normal.
Paranormal Activity 2 is a big improvement. The characters are a whole lot more relate able and likable. Katie and Micah even make a return appearance, and their asshole meter has been turned way down. I don't want to give away much about this film: the genius of the filmmakers and the marketing department is that they really didn't tell the audience what the film was going to be about. I thought it was going to be a straight sequel, and it isn't. It follows the "concept" of the first film but changes it up just enough so you are not seeing the same thing over and over. It expands on the "mythology" of PA (I smell a franchise) and takes it in a new direction. It was good, much better than I expected. Is it perfect? Hells no. The film kind of starts to fall apart at the end, after someone is "possessed" and a quick, split second decision is made that will effect many characters. It didn't feel right.
What I loved about this film is that it had "Baby Trauma". You just don't see enough baby trauma in films. It's always cat trauma or dog trauma (this film had that too) or upper middle class crafter trauma. What I also loved about this film is that it made me jump about 3 times. That is pretty impressive. At one point I was actually laughing while covering my eyes: I was so happy to be scared. In many ways, the PA films are like Haunted House Attractions. You stumble around in the dark, waiting for the big scare that you know is coming, you just don't know when. After, you laugh and move on with your life. That is Paranormal Activity. I will take it any day over Saw.
By the way, it should really be called Demonic Activity. Ghosties are nowhere to be found in these films. I guess Demons really are the new "in thing."