A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Paranormal Activity 2 -- a follow-up to 2009's low-budget horror hit -- is as full of dread and terror as the original. While hardly any violence is shown on screen (most of the scary moments involve loud noises and sudden movements), tension and fear are constant, and -- as in the original -- the viewer's imagination provides most of the fright. There's off-screen violence involving a dog, a toddler is put in mild peril, and one character's neck is snapped. Language is fairly infrequent but strong; it includes "f--k," "s--t" and "p---y." Teens who survived the original will most likely want to see this one, too.
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What's the story?
Two months before the events of Paranormal Activity, Katie's sister, Kristi (Sprague Grayden), brings home her new baby boy, Hunter. Her proud husband, Dan (Brian Bolden), has a teen daughter, Abby (Molly Ephraim), from a previous marriage; Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) occasionally visit. One day the family discovers that an unseen intruder has ransacked the house, without stealing anything. Dan sets up several surveillance cameras, and they begin to capture the increasingly creepy events in the house, which range from loud noises to falling frying pans to more sinister occurrences. The family dog, which has taken to sleeping in Hunter's room, suddenly collapses from an "attack" one night, and even Hunter is pulled out of his crib by unseen forces. Things get worse when Kristi becomes the source of the attacks, forcing Dan to make a tough decision.
Is it any good?
It's not quite as good as the first film, but it's a clever idea for a sequel and definitely delivers in the spooky department. For the follow-up to 2009's massive indie horror hit, veteran writer Michael R. Perry and director Tod Williams (The Door in the Floor) take over for original creator Oren Peli (he was a producer this time around). They maintain the style and tone of the original film: The terror remains offscreen and mostly in the imagination of the viewers, more psychological than gory. From that perspective, it's very effective and intense, creating tension with small things like an open door or a spinning mobile over a child's crib.
That said, the characters in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 seem less powerful, though there's an interesting family dynamic going on. And unlike the first film, the demon attacks are somewhat motivated here, which negates the feeling of irrational terror inspired by the first movie -- and actually explains some of the irrational terror of the first film.
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