Rental Reviewer: 'Paranormal Activity 2'

Whether it features ghosts, monsters or aliens, no movie is too sacred from fresh critique when at-home critics don the guise of the Rental Reviewer and explores the best (and worst) of paranormal pop culture.  If you'd like to write for Paranormal Pop Culture, please email with your story submission.

Paranormal Activity 2

We’ve all either seen it or heard of it, and thought "It was so scary" or "so lame" (except for those who were simply too afraid to check it out). Paranormal Activity, directed by Oren Peli and made for a measly $15,000, grossed $193 million at the box office in 2009, and was such a smash hit that a sequel was rushed to theaters October 2010. Made for a meatier, but still small, budget of $3 million, the film grossed $172 million and picked up a 60 percent fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.

Paranormal Activity 2 (Unrated Director's Cut) (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)There was good reason to be skeptical of a quickie sequel to the movie, but there's good news because Paranormal Activity 2, which comes out on DVD/Blu-ray today, is a prequel/parallel retelling of the first installment - and if you liked part one be prepared to jump out of your seat ... or your sofa for PA2.

The plot:
If you remember, Paranormal Activity follows young couple, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat), who are haunted by a presence in their home. To catch the demonic force in action, the couple set up a camera in their bedroom and encounter evidence that suggests the energy is connected to Katie's family. The scare factor of the original relied heavily on the shaky documentary-style, single-cam. It didn't hurt that, ala Blair Witch Project, people believed the story was for realz.

This time around, Micah and Katie return, but not as the main characters. Instead, the film begins shortly after Katie’s sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden), her husband Dan (Brian Boland), his daughter (Molly Ephraim) and baby son Hunter move into a new home. After the family is apparently burglarized, Dan installs security cams throughout the house. This break from the single, shaky cam style of its predecessor but maintains the voyeuristic observer experience - while also introducing an eerie, bird's eye viewpoint on the action.

After the cameras are installed, activity kicks in - maybe this demon is just a fame whore? - and just like the first movie, the evidence tells the story. Director Tod Williams (Peli serves as producer this time) ups the ante by endangering a lot more people, including a dog, baby and little girl, and by utilizing some subtle special effects.

The scene:
Kitchen cabinets, 'nuff said.

The take:
Without using theme music to tell you when something is going to happen, the scariest part about Paranormal Activity 2 is the "not knowing." The build-up of tension, just waiting for something to happens, makes the viewer jump all the higher when it does happen.

If you as a viewer see the second movie without seeing the first, you might be slightly confused, but PA2 neatly ties together with the original flick and it's cleverly, and more intensely, done - which sets the bar high for next year's Paranormal Activity 3.

: Paranormal Activity 2's intriguing “Director’s Uncut Version” is seven minutes longer than the original with special features, such as the original theatrical version, Found Footage (never before seen footage), and the teaser trailer. Both the DVD and Blu-Ray discs come with these features.

By PPC intern and fashion blogger Jen Danczak