Mark Verheiden's views on Paranormal Activity 2
I really do like reading Mark Verheiden's blog, he's the man who wrote Timecop, some Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, My Name is Bruce, Heroes and Bruce Vs. Frankenstein, he's also a producer of various films and television projects too, and his commentary on other films can be rather amusing.
This time though he's hit the nail on the head for me. Having watched Paranormal Activity and marvelled at how it wasn't scary and how ludicrous some of the plot was, the character decision especially, I wondered how bad Paranormal Activity 2 was going to be. He tells us and sums it up perfectly.
Now there are some spoilers coming up, and while I haven't seen Paranormal Activity 2 to comment on them, I have to say that they do sound as daft as the original and it seems as filled with silly character decisions as Paranormal Activity (Filmstalker review).
I won't list them all here, best to head over to Mark Verheiden's site to see them, but here are a few:
”The 15th time you cut to a static shot of a doorway, something is just bound to happen...
...When [a demon is trying to attack a family – I've removed the big plot spoiler here for you (Richard)], evidently the smart move is to throw the automatic pool cleaner out of the swimming pool every night for two weeks (see above) and repeatedly make a mess in the couple's kitchen.
If that doesn't work, thumping and bumping at odd hours is equally effective at communicating your dark desires...
...Evidently it is impossible for a couple to take their toddler with them when they go out to dinner...
...There is no business deal so important that you should leave your catatonic wife and terrified daughter alone, even if it's just for a "couple of hours."...
There's more, and it's filled with as much sarcasm as those comments are, well worth a read but believe me it gives away the “core” of the film, not that it really matters.
His comments do bring something to the fore about Paranormal Activity that I hoped wouldn't be true in the sequel, the behaviour of the characters being so far removed from humans that it failed to pull me into the story, and actually pushed me away forcibly.
Two key points for me about the first film were why they didn't just leave the house and why, when you are woken up in the middle of the night by your partner's blood curdling screams, you grab the camera, run down the stairs filming in first person, and then stand above her, filming, and asking if she's all right. Maybe that's acceptable if the person behind the camera is Dexter Morgan, but not if they are your loving partner.
Of course there were other problems with the film, problems such as the orchestra always kicking in to punctuate every scare, that seems to happen a lot these days in “found footage”, they also have a “found orchestra”.
Reading Verheiden's blog it sounds like that same key problem has been carried through to the second film, manipulating the characters beyond natural behaviour to ensure that the film gets the scene it needs to build up a standard scare.