Well... okay. We know that the original was "lightning in a bottle," brilliantly marketed by Paramount (which didn't even let you know it was Paramount at the time). The "stealth" sensation of 2009 quite lived up to its hype in my book.
So of course they try to do it again, with different filmmakers and a bigger budget. Now, right off the bat, I was utterly unimpressed with Paramount's ad campaign and their attempt to re-stoke the "Demand It!" nonsense. Fool me once, etc. etc.
And second? The first film didn't exactly REQUIRE a sequel, but at least I'm relieved that this isn't a "real" sequel (no further adventures for our unlucky possessee this time around). And thank goodness it isn't another misguided "Blair Witch" sequel (remember how BOOK OF SHADOWS tried to have it both ways? the original was 'just a movie' but this one WASN'T?) But it IS a deliberate studio attempt to recreate serindipity, with all the potential pitfalls that entails.
New family, new mega-wealth home with all the trimmings, new baby, cameras everywhere once the weirdness starts.
Now let me say this. For all my cynicism, for all I brought into this movie, a lot of it works VERY, VERY well. The performers are natural and believable. There are some extremely creepy buildups and some TERRIFIC jolts. The special effects are utterly flawless (you only know they're effects because they simply 'have' to be). And the way the filmmakers handled the toddler was absolutely masterful. Perhaps it really was 'child's play' to distract him so that his attention was riveted on everything but his mother during one crucial sequence, but the combination of video and sound editing makes you believe every second of it.
So seriously--hats off--for the latest entry in pseudo 'found footage' horror, it's not bad and ought to hold your attention. But (and you KNEW there was a 'but' coming, didn't you?), it still can't completely measure up for a viewer who's been around the block a few times. I recall one of Joe Bob's favorite review phrases was "too much plot getting in the way of the story." We get something like that here, along with such curious distractions as an intertitle that announces a character's death two months before it takes place (sorry, if that was meant to tense me up, it didn't work at all--you should have saved that for a surprise), not to mention Paramount's ludicrous opening "thank you to the families of the deceased, etc." Sorry, big studio--you're NOT going to trick anyone into thinking THIS one really happened--you're selling the damn thing as a sequel!
EDIT: It had been so long since I'd seen the first one (once) that I didn't even recognize the specific tie-in right away. And now that I DO recognize it? It doesn't help. See Joe Bob's catchphrase above. WAY too much plot getting in the way of the story.
Also miscalculated was a FAR too obvious attempt to recreate the final few minutes of REC (or QUARANTINE, if you prefer). Didn't work. Nor did the finale pack the full powered sucker punch of the original, try though it did. When I'm watching a film that represents itself as authentic and spontaneous, I should never have to say "Wait for it...!"
Still, as I said, there's some very, very good stuff in here--it's not THE LAST EXORCISM, but it sure as hell isn't MY SOUL TO TAKE, either. So if you have it in mind to see this, don't let me stop you!
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