Because Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity ended the way it did, director Tod Williams had no choice but to focus on a different side of the Rey family when he shot Paranormal Activity 2. However, just because PA2 was, in large part, a clean slate (most obviously indicated by way of new main characters and a new director), it’s important to note that Williams’ version wasn’t absent of the terror, anxiety, and discomfort we felt, endured, and honestly enjoyed when we sat through the first one. Thankfully, all of the suspense and tension reappeared in the sequel, and critics were not entirely wrong in warning us to “say goodbye to sleep.”
PA2 starts out rather happily, when Daniel (Brian Boland) and Kristi (Sprague Grayden, who’s sister is Katie from the first Paranormal Activity) bring their new baby boy, Hunter, home from the hospital. Using a hand held camera, the proud mom and dad decide to document the first experiences of their newly complete family unit. But once their house becomes the target of several break-ins that seem more destructive than productive (as none of Kristi’s diamonds are removed from their drawers), Kristi and Daniel decide to have security cameras installed so they can monitor what happens when they’re not home. Feeling pretty sure that this measure would put a stop to the break-ins, Daniel and Kristi resume their lives as usual. It’s only when things start tipping over and lights start flickering do we get any indication that the security cameras, in fact, can do nothing to protect the family from what is about to attack it. Williams does a noticeably decent job in layering on the strange instances and happenings around the house rather slowly and subtly, which essentially saves the movie from becoming a satire or crossing over into the same territory as those movies that have the word “movie” in their titles. And though the choice to shoot the movie using a camcorder is so obviously an attempt to make the movie seem like less of a movie plot and more like the aforementioned disturbances just happened to take place during an otherwise happy time in a family, it actually benefits the entire project.
The Blu-ray set came with two discs – the first disc had the movie on Blu-ray and the film’s “special features,” and the second disc just had a regular DVD copy of the movie. This proved to be quite problematic for me, personally, because I don’t own a Blu-ray player, which meant I was unable to check out the special features. I realize I’m a bit behind the curve in the fact that I do not own a Blu-ray player, but it’s still unclear as to why (if a set consists of two discs), the disc that cannot be played in every machine would be the one with the special features on it (since Blu-ray players play both regular DVDs and Blu-rays, while regular DVD players do not play Blu-rays at all).
But once I manifested a Blu-ray player for myself, I realized there were no special features on the Blu-ray disc! Hahaha! I must have been wrong for thinking the text on the Blu-ray that said “special features” meant there would be special features I could watch. But instead, the disc just consisted of of a version of the movie, an extended version of the movie, the theatrical trailer, and something called “found footage,” which was basically just a fancy name for deleted scenes. So I was kind of disappointed that I couldn’t get any inside information about what it was like to make the movie — whether it was from the cast, crew, writers, producers, or whoever. I mean, I assumed it takes a little extra production effort to make a movie where things fall down on their own and such than it does to make a romantic comedy, so I thought the filmmakers would have wanted to share how they made things like that happen with their audience because they were proud of the result. But it was saddening to see that Williams and his crew decided against letting us in on their techniques but I guess if they anticipate making a Paranormal Activity 3, then they certainly weren’t going to be inclined to reveal anything too worthwhile.