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Posted at 8:40 AM ET, 10/21/2010

'Paranormal Activity 2': Reviews start to roll in

By Jen Chaney

"Paranormal Activity 2" has been kept away from the critics. The sequel to last year's horror movie/social media phenomenon wasn't screened in advance, supposedly so Paramount could keep the flick's surprises a secret for as long as possible.

But with the movie officially opening tonight at midnight -- and special free advance screenings held last night in a handful of cities -- some reviews are beginning to leak out.

Twenty cities got a free sneak peek of "Paranormal Activity 2" (D.C. was not one of them), prompting regular moviegoers and a few media outlets and Web sites to start sharing their opinions. The very early response is mostly positive.

Four out of the five reviews currently on Rotten Tomatoes are fresh. Most come from horror sites ("The sequel, while not better than, might be just as good as Oren Peli’s indie smash hit of 2009," writes Brad Miska of Bloody Disgusting; "This is one of the best horror sequels I’ve seen," adds JimmyO at I Am Rogue), and only one critic from Brisbane, Australia, is negative.

"There are a few 'jump out of your seat' moments but when you break it down, it’s just a simple rehash of the original," concludes Matthew Toomey at his Film Pie blog.

While not a review, Clark Collis of Entertainment Weekly reports that audience reaction at an early New York screening definitely fell into the freaked-out category.

And over on the ultimate gauge of the public mood -- that would be Twitter -- the chatter is mostly focused on people who plan to see the movie this weekend. It's hard to get any consensus on the quality of the sequel, although some of the people who caught the advance screening profess to having been adequately scared. (The sequel, by the way, focuses on unexplained, late-night phenomena terrorizing a family about the same time that Mica and Katie of "Paranormal Activity" were dealing with their demon. And yes, Katie does make a reappearance.)

Honestly, the level of interest coupled with the scarcity of reviews has to work in Paramount's favor. There is enough interest from a core fan base and enough mystery about what actually happens in the movie to drive people to theaters, at least for the first day or so. "Paranormal Activity 2" won't repeat the phenomenal success of the first one, simply because it can't: The original movie was a sleeper. As a sequel, "Paranormal 2" is expected to put some jittery bodies into seats. And I expect it will.

In other words -- and it pains me to say this as someone who reviews movies -- what the critics ultimately say is largely, in this case, irrelevant.

Do you plan to see "Paranormal 2"? Or will you decide after reading more reviews?

By Jen Chaney  | October 21, 2010; 8:40 AM ET
Categories:  Movies  
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Comments

Thought the first one was meh & not even remotely scary but then I'm a jaded horror geek. No plans to see this one unless it turns up as a freebie on On Demand.

Blair Witch did it better.

Posted by: wadejg | October 21, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I waited and waited and waited to be scared shitless during the first "Paranormal Activity", and it never happened. I want my money back.

Posted by: jeclose | October 21, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I'll see it on On Demand or through Netflix, like I saw the first one. Although if the dog dies, I might not see it. I find dead dogs sad, not scary.

The fist one was interesting enough and short, though not spectacular.

Posted by: hebe1 | October 21, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Last year I was intrigued by all the fuss going around it, sat to watch and also waited for some scary stuff, nothing happened. I want 2 hours of my precious life back!

Posted by: Bolor | October 21, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I saw about five minutes of the first one on cable and, while I thought it was interesting, I thought the "documentary" aspect of it was tedious.

I will give the first one a chance. If I like it, I will go see the sequel.

Posted by: cfow1 | October 21, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

The Popcorn I ate made me more scared than the first one...the 2 people I went with both said WTF at the end. That's it? We were waiting for scary to happen and it never did...There was nothing remotely scary about it. Just there were jump up moments, but those happen in a lot of movies.
No plans to see the sequel...

Posted by: Krazijoe | October 21, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Will we ever see the last of the jumpy camera filming? This is a film making tool that should disappear as fast as the circling cam disappeared. If you cannot make a movie without jumping the camera around then please do the world a favor and stop making movies altogether.

Posted by: Ltmsm | October 21, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I will definitely be seeing the sequel. The first movie was incredibly freaky, everyone around me in the theatre seemed genuinely creeped out.

The reason I love these movies so much is because they don't have to use guts and gore to scare you. I will never watch movies like "Hostel" or "Saw". I prefer horror movies with great story lines & creepy cinematography that know how to weasel their way into your brain and really gnaw at you for days. And this one definitely does that.

Can't wait for #2.

Posted by: TheDusu | October 21, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

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