'Paranormal Activity 2': Reviews Are Flooding In

This frightful sequel is 'by far ... the most regretful you'll be when you arrive home afterward to an empty house,' one critic says.

After eight straight weeks of sub-$30 million openings at the multiplex, "Jackass 3D" arrived last weekend and reinvigorated the box office on the strength of Porta Potty acrobatics and out-of-control jet ski jumps. Now "Paranormal Activity 2," which opened Friday (October 22), is looking to make it two straight weeks of $30 million-plus debuts.

Though the sequel to last year's horror smash won't come close to topping "Jackass 3D" and its $50.4 million gross, word of mouth is strong and the thirst for more security-cam scares is intense, so expect "PA 2" to cross that $30 million mark.

Will you be one of those folks forking over cash for the chance to have the crap scared out of you? If you're not sure, check out what the critics have to say about "Paranormal Activity 2."

The Story

"We have another suburban family — this one tucked in a much more lived-in two-story tract house — broken faucets, stained carpets. There's a new baby, a second marriage for the father, Daniel (Brian Bolden, good), a doting mom (Sprague Grayden, also pretty good), dad's teen daughter from his first marriage (Molly Ephraim, sassy and believable) and a connection to the folks who were haunted in 'Paranormal Activity 1.' So naturally, things start going bump in the night. And as we learned in the first film, when they start going bump in the daytime, that's when you really need to worry. Dad's an 'I don't believe in that stuff' skeptic who chases away their superstitious Latina housekeeper. Mom is more credulous. And Ally, the daughter, wonders if these loud noises are her late mother trying to have a chat from the Hereafter. Paging Matt Damon! Things start out jokey — nerdy parents, faux cool kid, let's laugh at the pans falling and the house being ransacked. Then the surveillance video starts to win family members over, one by one." — Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel

'PA 1' Vs. 'PA 2'

"If you're wondering whether or not this 'Paranormal' outing can top the first's creep factor, the answer is a resounding yes. The security cam POV is still a very unnerving way to witness people freaked out (and tossed around) by forces unseen. A door that slowly swings shut in a baby's room — effectively trapping the kid — can get under your skin way more than any of Jigsaw's antics." — Peter Paras, E! Online

The Scares

"In 'Paranormal Activity 2,' our eyes keep darting back and forth, scanning the sidewalks, the doorways, the posh bric-a-brac in that overstuffed kitchen, searching (before it can frighten us!) for a telltale bit of movement — for the barest hint of an apparition edging into the frame, or an inanimate object that decides to move around on its own. It's like a haunted-house version of 'Where's Waldo.' Alfred Hitchcock used to say that if you jolted an audience with a bomb blast out of the blue, that was merely a shock, but if you planted a bomb and made the audience wait for it to go off, that was suspense.

'Paranormal Activity 2' blends the two modes into what might be called shockpense. The film keeps jolting us out of the blue, all right — with sudden booms, doors that open of their own accord, or a frying pan that drops out of a pot hanger. In a funny way, though, what makes these devices work is their very randomness: They tickle us with terror because watching the movie, we do know that a bomb has been planted, only it's a bomb — or, more accurately, a demon — you can't see." — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

The Dissenters

"Though more briskly edited than its predecessor, 'Paranormal Activity 2' likewise takes its time, springing the first big jolt only after a full hour, after which things escalate fast. But nothing here is as unsettling as in the original. That's partly because viewers now know more or less what to expect, but also because the spacious home setting is often too brightly lit to be scary. Plus, pic's new protags are far less engaging and empathetic than the first film's quarreling, psychologically deteriorating duo." — Dennis Harvey, Variety

The Final Word

"Where the first film was more of a slow burn, this one is economical and almost systematic in its escalation of events. Is the vandalism that inspires the family to set up security cameras a real break-in, or is it the first signifier that something more sinister is present? The fact that this is the sort of question that I came out of the film asking is a testament to how effective it is at being scary, because, again, it takes those familiar conventions and revitalizes them. ... Ultimately, 'Paranormal Activity 2' is by far the most fun you'll have being scared at the movies in 2010, and the most regretful you'll be when you arrive home afterward to an empty house." — Todd Gilchrist, CraveOnline