Osage Reviews...PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount) - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 2 Old 02-25-11, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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Osage Reviews...PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount)

Studio Name: Paramount
Disc/Transfer Information: 1080p High Definition 1.78:1; Region 1 (U.S.) Release
Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: Tod “Kip” Williams
Starring Cast: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Michael Bayouth


Huddled and trapped beneath an absolute avalanche of press hype and fan anticipation, the “sequel” to Paramount’s hit haunted house sleeper Paranormal Activity finally arrived recently on home video amidst a whirlwind of hoopla; I can recall hearing the buzz from people in the aisles of a local Blockbuster, clamoring and asking all kinds of questions to the staff about when Paranormal Activity 2 would be out, and I knew immediately it was going to be a difficult title to get a copy of.

I’ll admit I was pretty smitten with the first film, which I saw theatrically and subsequently bought on standard DVD upon its home video release; the concept was following a trend popular in Hollywood today, perhaps taken over the top by Paramount’s Cloverfield, which depicted the attack of some kind of monster upon New York City and offered the perspective – from start to finish – of a shaky camcorder to tell the story in real time…and so while this wasn’t a particularly new concept (think Blair Witch), Paramount’s Paranormal Activity became a cash cow especially taking into consideration the small budget it was made on. The premise confused audiences once all the buzz about how the actual story was a crock surfaced online after its launch – a young California couple are terrorized by ghostly happenings in their home, and it’s all captured on video camera in what the audience believes is real time and about real events. Adding to this effect are the notices in the beginning of the film suggesting real California police departments were involved in obtaining the footage we’re going to see and such; but alas, the truth later came out that the story was fictitious and staged despite how realistic the staging was.

And Paranormal Activity was indeed scary – there is no score to accompany the film, and with each noise in the middle of the night captured on “video” as we watch the video camera perspective, our nerves are jumpy as we expect to see a door close by itself or a startling noise to explode. The final result was definitely effective, and made me jump out of my chair a couple of times during the “stinger” sequences – something modern day horror cinema hasn’t been able to do for some time.

With the announcement a sequel was being greenlighted, fans of the first film – who have formed an almost cult like following – were teeming with anticipation, especially with the news that “Katie” and “Micah” would somehow be returning even though Micah was reportedly “murdered” by a “possessed” Katie at the end of the first film, and then her whereabouts “remained unknown.” But upon watching Paranormal Activity 2 – which I missed in theaters – it becomes revealed quite quickly that this is actually a prequel leading to the events which occurred in the first film to Katie and Micah. With the director’s torch being passed to Tod “Kip” Williams to helm this sequel but the original director still onboard to help coach and produce, Paranormal Activity 2 ends up showing great potential but ultimately fails for a few reasons, one of which, to me, has to do with depicting a family’s dog being seriously affected by this ghostly entity…which I think they never should have included. There is also the connection between Katie and her sister and the ghostly apparitions they used to see as kids further explored here, and how that relates to why this entity is choosing them to torment.

Shot in the same camera-perspective style as the first film, the sequel/prequel opens with yet another California couple living in their home – it’s actually Katie’s sister and her husband, whom has a teenage daughter from another woman and marriage. The first few frames set up the scenario depicting the couple returning home from the hospital with their newborn baby, and Katie herself actually popping over to share in the joy. Eventually, Micah is reintroduced and we are exposed to why this is a prequel – the screen makes note that the events being portrayed occurred 60 or so days before his death. One night, the family experiences what they believe is a burglary of the home, and they call a security company to install cameras all over the house. From this point on, the perspective becomes from the point of view of the rotating camera shots from around and inside the house.

Something is obviously drawn to and concentrating on the couple’s new baby – each night, eerie noises are heard in the nursery and the family dog, Abbey, even senses something isn’t right in that room. Eventually, we begin to witness really creepy occurrences – the baby’s mobile over the crib turning slowly by itself, weird lights flashing on and off outside the room, Abbey crouching down and growling at the bathroom and window and ultimately the baby itself levitating out of the crib and onto the floor. The husband doesn’t want to believe any of this as Katie’s sister and stepdaughter are terrorized by unexplainable happenings like kitchen drawers and pots being violently opened and thrown by themselves and the swimming pool cleaner taking itself out of the water each night – all caught on surveillance cameras. The events begin to pile in the style of The Amityville Horror or even the first Paranormal and become cumulative with each passing night (noted onscreen in the fashion of the first film…”Night #2, October XX,” etc.); one night, the couple get dressed up to go out and get away for awhile while the teenage daughter watches the baby for them. When her dweeb boyfriend comes over, they use the Ouija board and when asked what it wants, the board spells out the word “BABY.” If that wasn’t enough, the daughter is startled by a banging noise outside the front door, and is ultimately trapped out there when the door slams shut on its own after she goes out to investigate.

Then, there is the element of the Spanish speaking housekeeper, who is highly religious and knows there is a demonic force in this house – she attempts to explain this to the family and conduct her own “cleansings,” but after one night she watches the baby and the couple are out, and a horrendously loud and frightening noise rocks the baby’s nursery, she attempts to perform a ceremony with candles. Coming home to find this, the husband fires her and sends her away.

But the occurrences keep on coming – to the point that, much like Katie from the first film, this entity seems to enter her sister and puts her in a comatose, possessed state. out the stepdaughter and husband, she is seen on camera walking about the house lifelessly and ultimately going into the basement – a source even the family dog sniffed out as supernatural in nature. As I mentioned, there is a moment involving Abbey, the dog, that disturbed me being an animal lover and I don’t think it was necessary to include, at all, and the conclusion of the 91-minute film ties together the events at the end of the first Paranormal Activity from the moment Katie murders Micah in their house. I didn’t really know what to make of what the Blu-ray box called the brutally shocking final scene, but I will leave that to you to find out and determine for yourselves – the thing is, this prequel ends suggesting a certain characters’ whereabouts are still unknown, and that was a bit unoriginal. From what I understand via MTV rumor mills, there is a third installment to this “franchise” being considered now, but I don’t think any of these are going to measure up to the creativity and unique creep out element exhibited by the original.

But, it’s clear this couple’s infant child has something to do with what this malevolent spirit wants, and there is indeed a connection between Katie and her sister, and what happened to them when they were younger. There were definite “jump out of your pants” moments here, as there were in the first film, where the dead silence is broken by a jarring ghostly noise or bang, and that same brooding “vibration” when the entity is ready to “attack” could be heard just like in the first film, and that was effective. Still, after I learned that these “events” were not even remotely “real” or based on anything that actually happened, as the pacing and technique of the original suggested (not to mention its marketing campaign), I have a difficult time enjoying these anymore. Sure, the original was effective and I suppose still is, and there are plenty of scares, but to know that what we’re seeing isn’t based on anything despite the camera real time perspective – the same thing happened with the creepy Fourth Kind – just left something missing to me.


This was a tough one to analyze and describe due solely to the mixture of razor sharp HD images filmed specifically in the format and fuzzy, noisy video camera sequences that showed up looking worse than anything I saw on the DVD of Paranormal Activity; with no letterboxing appearing on my screen during this 1.78:1 exhibition, Paramount’s 1080p transfer of Paranormal Activity 2 looks awesome during the outdoor, sunlight shots but downright ugly and awful during dark sequences and those coming from the camera perspective.

First, let’s analyze the pros of this transfer – when it stood out and strutted its 1080p stuff, the 1.78:1 image struck me as being leaps and bounds beyond anything the DVD of the first film exhibited. The shots of the young couples in the swimming pool discussing the haunting taking place in the house and other ramblings were downright stunning in most places – the bright, searing greens of the grass in the fore and background, the detail in the palm trees and the absolute clarity of these scenes were amazing and rich. Some interior shots in which the security cameras capture what’s going on – such as in the kitchen of the house – suddenly appearing sharp and clear was a head scratcher though; the fuzzy, murky video depicting what the cameras are capturing at night and in certain parts of the house suddenly turn crisp and clear from other camera perspectives, and this just didn’t make sense.

Thus, we get to the cons of the transfer – wow…do those aforementioned murky video camera perspective sequences look really bad on this disc. Of course, this is expected to a degree using the 1080p encode and exhibiting what is supposed to suggest “noise” on a surveillance camera system, but these scenes and shots just looked awful, to the point that you’ll cringe watching them. Every time a sequence flipped to one of the security cameras around the house capturing footage at night or in the dark, the image collapsed into a noisy, grainy, murky mess, making it difficult to even make out what was going on. As I said, I realize this is the nature of the HD encode attempting to resolve these difficult lighting and photography shots, but they looked really bad.

In the end though, between the razor sharp and almost transparent outdoor sun light sequences and other detail rich moments in the transfer, the Blu-ray of Paranormal Activity 2 clearly showed the difference in the formats when compared to the DVD of the first film.


Also comparing the DVD’s subtle yet pounding-in-places Dolby Digital mix of the first film to the sequel’s DTS-HD Master Audio track, it seemed both were about on par with one another; these films are a strange duo to analyze in terms of sound as well. Most of the time, there’s nothing but camcorder-perspective dialogue coming through the center channel, and this is suddenly broken by startling, driving booms and creaks and noises during the haunting sequences – the DVD of the first film handled this well, with the LFE smacks coming through so hard during some scenes it made my sub bottom out and my dog to jump up. The same thing happened on the Blu-ray’s Master Audio mix for the second film – a moment when the baby’s nursery door slams shut on its own as the entity attacks was accompanied by a “WHAM!” of low, loud bass that made my sub sound like it was going to explode. My dog jumped again, by the way. I immediately dialed my master volume back due to the nasty snap my ready-for-replacement sub exhibited. Like the first film, there was really no surround information to speak of; most of these tracks are center-loaded with subwoofer support, as I said.




If you liked the first one, give this a rental – it delivers many heart-stopping moments, but I feel like they’re really milking this fictitious chain of events at this point with the announcement of a third installment. For me, I won’t be buying it – if for nothing than what happens to the family dog in this. And for that, I can’t forgive the filmmakers.
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post #2 of 2 Old 03-16-11, 01:42 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,264
Re: Osage Reviews...PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount)

Has anyone seen this yet? Thoughts?
Osage_Winter is offline  


(blu-ray; , activity , osage , paramount) , reviews...paranormal

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