Basement Films: When Sequels Don’t Fail

Sean Strain

Yesterday, I saw that my father had bought one of those Redbox DVDs that you can get for only a dollar. I was a bit curious, but my curiosity was deflated when I saw that he had chosen Paranormal Activity 2. I was not amused.

The first movie involved a couple who were haunted by an invisible entity that created bumps in the night and threw objects across the room, which the couple all recorded on a simple camcorder. Me and my dad went to see this movie when it went to larger audiences after seeing a lot of popularity at the film festivals. I jumped at the first bang and was expecting something really terrifying to happen. Then I was bored for a long time.

I did not really find the movie terrifying and I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my seat in fear for the protagonists. Actually, I was really hoping the male lead would eventually see his end. He pretty much held the idiot ball throughout the whole movie and seemed to not understand what was happening around him at all. The moment he pulled out a Ouija board, I knew that 1) he was too dumb to live and 2) he apparently never saw The Exorcist.

So, I did not have high hopes for the sequel and it seemed that I was right. At first. The first twenty minutes is simply watching the characters go about their daily lives and some ominous shots of their pool (and realizing how much richer these characters were than me. They had a pool for Pete’s sake (I also just thought that the expression ‘Pete’s sake’ may be referencing Saint Peter, as an alternative to Christ’s sake. Just a thought)).

Than after many tension building shots of evil slowly creeping into these character’s normal lives, the paranormal tea pot finally screeches to a boil when the parents leave their teenage daughter alone with their toddler son. I wasn’t scared (though I did jump from time to time), but I was definitely more invested into the story of the sequel than the first one, which was surprising.

In my experience, sequels are often far inferior to the originals. It’s either a rehash of the first or doesn’t have the magic that made the original special. Though, when the original is awful and you don’t have any expectations for the sequel, I suppose it isn’t too hard to actually be decent, which Paranormal Activity 2 accomplished.