M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved starting with the year I began reviewing the genre officially October 1, 2010 through October 1, 2011. I have posted my best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around a bit. I’ve even added a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st 2010 and September 30, 2011 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number, 31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on October 22, 2010. Available on Video On Demand, digital download, and DVD/BluRay!


Directed by Tod Williams
Written by Michael R. Perry, Christopher Landon, Tom Pabst (screenplay), Michael R. Perry (story), created by Oren Peli
Starring Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Sprague Grayden, Molly Ephraim, Brian Boland, David Bierend, Seth Ginsberg, William Juan Prieto, Jackson Xenia Prieto, Vivis Colombetti

I was one of those guys who was reeled in hook, line, and stinker with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Even after all of these years, the simple setups, incremental intensity of scares, and explosive ending gets me. One mere year after PARANORMAL ACTIVITY became a phenomenon, the sequel dropped. Now, I know people think of this series with a bit of ire. The film basically hit the wash, rinse, repeat button for five films. But consider this. We didn’t know PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 was going to be a rehash of the original. In fact, it wasn’t. It did widen the mystery, it asked new questions, it added new techniques which increased the tension, and moved the story along a skosh. Who knew they were going to do the same thing in every next installment, only making the first and last few minutes of the film worth paying attention to. At the time, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 gave enough to be worth checking out.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 takes place around the same time the original film does focusing on another house across the country belonging to Kristi (Sprague Grayden), her husband Dan (Brian Boland), their teenage daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim), and their newborn child Hunter (played by twins William Juan Prieto & Jackson Xenia Prieto). Kristi is the sister of Katie Featherton who was the star of the original film and Katie makes appearances throughout the film updating Kristi about the strange things that are happening to their house. When the family comes home to their house in disarray, they believe they have been broken into and Dan installs numerous security cams throughout the house. Almost immediately, Dan and Kristi notice strange things happening. Pots fall, the baby moves as if he is being tugged at in his crib, the dog grows. It’s evident that the demonic forces that haunted Katie in the original are after Kristi’s family as well.

What PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 does well is pull the scope of the film back a bit, giving the story a wider vantage point. We already know what is going on at Katie’s house, but knowing that the same things are happening at Kristi’s hint at deeper horrors at work. There is also more delving into the paranormal history of Katie and Kristi as they talk about having experienced these problems before as children. This suggested that Oren Peli and the BlumHouse crew seemed to have a plan for the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series, only doling out selected info in order to entice you enough to come back for more.

And the scares are damn potent. Just as the original caused my neck hairs to stand on end and my brow to moisten, I had the same feelings with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2. The feeling was new for me at the time I saw it and the more I wanted from the original was sort of satiated with this sequel. It is a feeling that would wane after the third installment where it was evident what the formula was. Here everything still feels fresh, as if the story was unfolding and spreading its wings in a natural fashion as all good sequels are supposed to do.

Still, if repeated silent scenes of an empty room only interrupted by slight movements occasionally bored you with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, then you’re going to get more of the same here. Despite the fact that the story skips to the next piece in the road, a lot of the same formulaic scares are present. That said, there are moments in this film that I believe might be setup smarter and more scarier than the original, specifically the moment where Krisi is pulled by unseen forces throughout the house, down the stairs and off camera. These are scenes that chilled me to the core and compounded the scares we experienced in the original.

If you have opinions about PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, you’re bound to have the same with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2. For me, it worked big time. This is probably the strongest of the series. After this, unfortunately, success buts in and formula takes precedence over developing a story. It seemed like they thought they would be able to prolong this series indefinitely using the same formula. But PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 does it all the best, reaching the peak for scares, intensity, and drama for this series before it plateaus out. Watching the two films back to back is a potent one-two punch. All after just don’t compare.

THE 2010-2011 COUNTDOWN!

#22 – RUBBER
#27 – HUSK
#30 – LA HORDE

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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