HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010) and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2: TOKYO NIGHT (2010)

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I thought I’d wrap up my recent look back at the Paranormal Activity sequels… as well as a review of the new Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones with a look back not only at the first sequel/prequel Paranormal Activity 2, but with a review of an unofficial direct sequel made in Japan called Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Night

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010)

Not often do sequels live up to the original… and this sequel doesn’t quite rate an equal… but Paranormal Activity 2 does a good job of keeping up with it’s predecessor well enough. Director Tod Williams uses your familiarity with the first chiller to mess with you and up the ante on the goose-bump factor. He knows when you’ll expect something and more importantly, when you’re not. PA2  is cleverly written and is a nice companion piece to the original as it is both sequel and prequel, fitting with the original like an adjoining puzzle piece. This film involves Katie’s sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden), her husband Daniel (Brian Boland) and step-daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) as they welcome new baby boy Hunter (Jackson and William Prieto) into the house. Soon after the baby’s arrival, the house is broken into and strange things start to occur. In response, Daniel has security camera’s installed while Ali starts to carry a camera around with her everywhere, thus keeping in line with the found footage format as we are allegedly watching that footage. Daniel refuses to believe what Ali and Kristi are starting to suspect, that they have another new arrival, other than the infant son, and this one isn’t as cute and sweet.

Paranormal Activity 2 takes place, mostly, 2 months before the first film, allowing for appearances from Micah (Micah Sloat)and Katie (Katie Featherston) and it explains a bit more as to why these occurrences are happening and how it wound up at Micah and Katie’s house a few months later. And without giving anything away, PA2’s timeline does catch up to it’s predecessor during a final act which had the preview audience screaming almost non stop. Which is why these flicks are best seen with an audience. To reveal any more would ruin a fun and spooky follow-up and for fans of this series, it is exactly that. The cast all do good work and come across as a family and I found the Rey’s quite likable and that helps your concern for them and it was fun to see Micah and Katie again too. PA2 won’t convert those who didn’t appreciate Oren Peli’s original scare-fest, but for those that did, it’s a sequel that smartly remains familiar enough to it’s source yet, shakes things up just enough to satisfy and entertain. Well done! Also stars Vivis Cortez as the Latino housekeeper with a handy knowledge of the supernatural.

PERSONAL RANT: I respect that a lot of people don’t hold this sequel in the same regard I do, but one of the things that annoys me is that the detractors always go to the ‘haunted pool cleaner’ as a major argument point. If they were paying attention, there is a scene where Daniel clearly demonstrates to Ali and Kristi that the pool cleaner is simply malfunctioning. So it is not possessed, it’s a red herring and helps to further serve Daniel’s disbelief that there is anything supernatural going on. I respect opposing opinions, but picking on and twisting points that are clearly explained just to further your viewpoint, not so much.

3 and 1/2 spooks!

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BONUS REVIEW

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2: TOKYO NIGHT (2010)

Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night is an unofficial Japanese made sequel to Paranormal Activity where brother Koichi (Aoi Nakamura) is…for some reason (maybe it was explained, but the subtitles on the print I saw were pretty poor) using a camera to document while he cares for his injured sister Haruka (Noriko Aoyama), who is wheelchair bound. When strange things begin to happen around the house, the brother continues to document as the paranormal bumps in the night escalate and it becomes clear there is something malevolent in their home. And since his sister was injured while in the US in an accident involving the demon possessed Katie from Paranormal Activity, is this any surprise?

Despite the new setting, the addition of Japanese spiritual culture and making the antagonists brother and sister, Japanese offspring of Peli’s runaway hit is basically made from the same formula and is practically a remake of PA1. Writer/director Toshikazu Nagae does deliver some amusing bits…including using a split screen effect as the siblings have separate bedrooms and thus a camera in each, so you have to keep an eye on two rooms at once…and it does have a few spooky moments…including a creepy hospital set ending…but everything is just too familiar to make it anything more then just a curiosity for fans of this series and it sure won’t recruit any new ones. In an odd way it does fit in, to a degree, with the rest of the series, so if you are a completest, you may want to seek this out. To my knowledge there was never any legal action by the Paranormal Activity creators or Paramount Pictures, but maybe they found it as mildly amusing and ultimately harmless as I did.

2 and 1/2 spooks!

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PA2: Tokyo Night also follows the Paranormal Activity series’ tradition of cuties for leading ladies with Noriko Aoyama…

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)

I like the Paranormal Activity series. It’s a minimalist smoke and mirrors approach that let’s your imagination conjure up a good deal of the scares and a pleasant change from some of the more gruesome stuff I love and entertain myself with. But, with a third installment, the question is, can they keep the formula fresh and your imaginations properly manipulated? The answer is yes! PA3 directors Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman (directors and writers of the indie hit Catfish) take the reins and take us back to 1988 when sisters Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) are little girls and all the bumps in the night began. And these two know how to manipulate the formula and crank it up while also adding some welcome humor to the mix. Where 1 & 2 were a slow burn, PA3 starts almost immediately. When strange noises start to occur and Kristi starts talking to an imaginary friend, their single mom Julie’s (Lauren Bittner) boyfriend Dennis (Chris Smith), a wedding videographer, sets up cameras in the house to capture what’s going on and… we all know what comes next…and the makers of PA3 are counting on it. They know we know what to expect and when and cleverly use that against us. That and they use a fantastic gimmick involving a camera mounted on an oscillating fan base and with it Joost and Schulman take us on a roller-coaster ride of delightfully scary fun.You literally sit there eyes darting all about the frame trying to anticipate where the next scare is coming. And Joost and Schulman lure you in every time. In the film’s final act we do go into slightly new territory for this series and in some truly bone chilling sequences get an idea as to why Katie and family are targeted by this malevolent force. To say anymore would spoil an extremely nerve-wracking and nail biting climax that is as haunting as it is revealing. Most of the cast are new and perform well, especially the little girls who really handle their difficult roles with surprisingly strong performances while Bittner and Smith make a very real and charming couple. We like this bunch and therefor care about them. Series star Katie Featherston also does appear briefly as adult Katie, as does Sprague Grayden as Kristi, which helps us better link this with the previous two flicks. The FX are minimal as usual but, really effective and the POV camera style still works just fine with a little suspension of disbelief. A fun addition to the series and while I do understand why they don’t appeal to everyone, I have a good time with these, especially in a packed movie house where horror movies should be seen. The home media release includes a director’s cut that is a bit longer and has some amusing bits added in.

3 and 1/2 spooks!

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: KATIE FEATHERSTON

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This installment of Halloween Hotties takes a look at the paranormally beautiful and very talented Katie Featherston, a girl next door from the lone star state of Texas who has been capturing our hearts and scaring us out of our wits in the Paranormal Activity movie series.

click on the highlighted links to read a review of Paranormal Activity featured here recently in our Date Movie column at MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse! And click HERE for a more in depth look at Katie’s character in our Why Do Good Scares Like Bad Girls expose’ of some of Horror’s recent femme fatales. And for fans of her co-star Micah Sloat, we take a look at his character here!

KATIE FEATHERSTON

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Texas born Katie Featherston has long dreamed of being actress. She studied acting at Southern Methodist University graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts… beauty as well as brains… and headed out to L.A. to seek her dream like many other acting hopefuls. Answering an ad, she auditioned for a role, along with another aspiring young actor named Micah Sloat, for first time filmmaker Oren Peli’s supernatural themed thriller, Paranormal Activity. Peli liked the dynamic between Katie and Micah and the rest is history. The actors where paid around $500 each for a week’s work where they would not only be doing a lot of the filming themselves, but improvising most of their dialog as well for the now classic found footage haunting flick. The film became a huge hit after gathering a reputation playing film festivals and Katie’s character has now appeared in all 3 smash hit sequels with another on the horizon… though her participation is being kept secret as always, we can only hope she will haunt us again in PA5. But fans may not know that Katie was also in 2 other low budget horror flicks before Paranormal Activity hit big. She played a rescued victim of a serial killer in the 2006 low budgeter Mutation and the loving girlfriend of the main character in the gory Psychic Experiment which finally got a recent release and made good use of Miss Featherston’s star power featuring her prominently on the movie art despite her role being a supporting one. Katie also recently had a multi episode role in Oren Peli’s supernatural found footage TV series The River as a camerawoman on an ill-fated expedition. Paranormal Activity is now considered a modern classic and it’s sequels are very popular all around the world and whether she’s playing an angel or a devil, her work in the horror genre makes Katie one of our favorite Halloween Hotties!
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As a potential victim of a serial killer rescued by a pursuing detective in Mutation...

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…As loving girlfriend Elsbeth in Psychic Experiment

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…in a quieter moment as ‘Katie’ before all hell breaks loose in Paranormal Activity… 

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…under the thrall of a supernatural fiend in Paranormal Activity’s chilling last act…

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…looking adorable with the equally cute Sprague Grayden who plays sister Kristi in PA3…

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… as “Rabbitt” an ill-fated documentary crew member in Oren Peli’s short lived TV show The River…

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… stalking her prey in Paranormal Activity 4

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…and as herself, a beautiful and talented young woman we’d like to see a lot more of!

BONUS: watch this very funny skit as Katie pokes fun at PA‘s effect on her auditions…

And don’t forget to check out our Halloween Hotties focusing on Melanie PapaliaKatharine IsabelleAmber Heard, Alexandra DaddarioKatrina Bowden, Briana Evigan and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages!

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