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Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 2 (R)

 “The baby was cute.”

“No one could argue that the baby was cute.”

This is what I heard outside the press screening of Paranormal Activity 2 as film critics, newspaper arts editors and radio personalities grappled last night with what we’d all say about this movie today.

“Everybody loves a cute baby.”

Anddd that pretty much says it all.

If you saw Paranormal Activity, you remember Katie and Micah, who were quite abused by demon/ghosts caught on shaky-cam in their own home. They make reappearances in this movie since it’s a prequel taking place 60 days before the events of the first movie.

But this time, there’s a baby. Baby Hunter belongs to Katie’s sister Kristi, who lives with her husband and the teenager from his previous marriage in a big suburban house filled with Pottery Barn chandeliers and granite backsplashes and expensive outdoor furniture by the pool.

Only the family dog and Hunter can see the source of the paranormal activity, though it eventually interacts physically with the home’s residents. There’s sort of a passing plot attempt to give Katie and Kristi (who realllly could use a hobby other than sitting around waiting for pots and pans to clank) a shady ‘scary ghost’ experience in their childhood, and the teenager looks up on the internet that someone probably sold the firstborn son’s soul to a demon.

Well, duh. Dontcha hate it when someone sells your kid’s soul to Satan?

The first half of the movie is super boring, consisting mainly of shots from the security cameras that have been installed after a conveniently timed break-in-slash-early paranormal activity. Spoiler alert: the electronic pool cleaner is haunted and climbs out of the pool by itself. Yawn.

But the action picks up in the second half of the film when the scary noises turn into more direct physical interactions with the fantastically unlucky family. Sadly, the Latina Nanny who tried to warn the family against the evil spirits is fired, though she’s brought back by the dad when he decides to basically negotiate with the invisible Beezlebub in an interesting plot twist.

I can’t say the movie completely sucked. It didn’t. There are some real thrillery, grip-the-person next to you moments. In my case, the person next to me was my 16 year old daughter, who I took as my plus-one in an effort to impress her with ‘we can see it before it’s even out!’ excuse to spend time with her that didn’t involve texting. Her review?

“It wasn’t great and it wasn’t awful. I’d rather see a zombie movie.” (Um, yeah. We play too much “Left for Dead” around here… we kill zombies like it’s our job.)

If you’re looking for a scary movie for Halloween weekend- this one is perfect. There’s a certain level of excitement that comes from a packed movie theatre (and popcorn with tons of butter) that you can’t get at home watching a DVD. The acting’s not as bad as you’d think it would be, there’s no doubt the suspense builds in the second half (be patient!), and in a rare cinematic happening- it’s better than the first one.


The baby? Was super cute.

Rated R for mild violence, language (a few cusses only), and one completely random bathtub flirt scene, I guess. I would argue the movie is fine for teenagers to see unless you’ve completely sheltered them from Disney villains all their lives, in which case you may want to let them sneak over to their friend’s house to watch it.

Film review by Mary McCarthy, brand new Chesapeake Family Editor

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