Paranormal Activity 2: Wow. What a difference a year makes. Time was, the Saw series owned the weekend of and/or before Halloween, and from 2005 through 2008 (or in Saw terms, from II through V), studios were happy not to challenge their dominance. But in 2009, it occurred to someone at Paramount that a series that, in fact, peaked gross-wise with the second installment, may not be an insurmountable challenge, especially if you’re able to produce a horror movie that’s actually remotely scary. I’ve seen every Saw movie so far, and I can tell you, even at their lurid-trash best, they are not scary, nor particularly suited to Halloween.
Lo and behold, Paranormal Activity‘s wide expansion pretty much beat the tar out of Saw VI. This hasn’t encouraged studios to try out new horror movies, of course; it has encouraged Paramount to rush a quickie Paranormal Activity 2 into production, in a bizarre effort to become the next Saw (although: from a studio’s perspective, you could do a lot worse than a six-movie series that has probably never failed to turn a profit) (in fact, from a studio’s perspective, I’m not sure you could do better). No one seems to be working ahead and figuring out how to challenge the burgeoning Paranormal Activity franchise, which will probably do some business this year based on the genuine freakiness of the first movie, but after that, who knows. In any case, the short trailers make Paranormal Activity 2 seem at least ten times more palatable than Blair Witch 2 in that they haven’t jettisoned the gimmick that made the first movie so creepy. Then again, will that gimmick be scary a second time around? Probably, but not as much. Either way, prepare yourselves for Paranormal Activity 3-D, and several more years of hoping for another good Halloween-season horror movie. And tune in next weekend, for my puzzled and puzzling anticipation of Saw VII-D.