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19. Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Director: Tod Williams
Stars: Katie Featherstone, Sprague Grayden, Molly Ephraim, Brian Boland, Micah Sloat

Paranormal Activity 2 shouldn’t have been any good. Think about it. The first Paranormal Activity, directed by first-timer Oren Peli for pennies and with a pair of unknown actors, was an unexpected, rags-to-riches success, that rare case of a new filmmaker’s homemade passion project exploding into the public’s collective conscious. It doesn’t seem likely that Peli envisioned his humble little flick as the first of a blockbuster horror trilogy (or more, depending on how well Paranormal Activity 3 performs at the box office this weekend); thus, Paranormal Activity 2, merely produced by Peli (and directed by the non-famous Tod Williams), started off as an opportunistic cash grab that, at the very least, wouldn’t embarrass itself a la Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.

Or so we thought. As it turned out, Paranormal Activity 2 seriously improved upon Peli’s film. For starters, the scares hit harder, thanks to Williams’ tactic of prolonging the suspense early on before erupting with demonic mayhem in the finale. Most importantly, though, screenwriter Michael Perry found intelligent ways to connect the two films’ dots, taking an unanticipated “prequel” approach that added tons of fascinating mythology and back-story. The bar is resting quite high for Paranormal Activity 3.

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