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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Paranormal Activity 2

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


A scene from the movie "Paranormal Activity 2."
Fans of genuinely scary films—skin-crawlers that earn their chills by subtlety and suspense—will welcome "Paranormal Activity 2" (Paramount), director Tod Williams' follow-up to a refreshingly unbloody original.

And the news gets even better, since his efficiently unnerving extension of the franchise that began with 2009's "Paranormal Activity" not only avoids gratuitous gore, as did its predecessor, but also tones down the original's excess of sexual themes and vulgar language.

In part that's because the focus here is on a more-or-less traditional family, as opposed to the cohabiting yuppies at the center of the first story.

Said clan includes widower Daniel (Brian Boland) and his second wife, Kristi (Sprague Grayden) -- sister, as it turns out, to Katie (Katie Featherston), the female half of the shacked-up couple in the last outing. The others are Daniel's teen daughter by his previous marriage, Ali (Molly Ephraim), and the latest addition, 1-year-old son Hunter. Together they share a large home and a prosperous lifestyle in Carlsbad, Calif.

After a destructive incident Daniel and Kristi take for a break-in by vandals, they summon a home security team who installs the half-dozen cameras through which—along with Dad's handheld device—we witness the untoward events that follow. Tension builds as the silent, empty rooms on which these lenses are fixed suddenly come alive with things that go bump in the night.

Skeptical Daniel insists there's a natural explanation for everything. But Ali trolls the Internet for occult explanations, and gradually becomes convinced that—because of the sins of a previous generation of Kristi's lineage—a demon has malignant designs on poor little Hunter.

Their Hispanic housekeeper, Martina (the singly monikered Vivis)—bless her ethnic, presumably Catholic soul—is way ahead of her secular-minded employers on the evil spirits front. She resorts to a mix of ostensibly Christian and blatantly pagan means in her efforts to expel them. But the use of Christian symbols—a wooden cross coated in olive oil, for instance—is strictly of the "Take that, Dracula!" variety.

More troubling is the climactic bargain Daniel enters into that eventually buys the household a little peace, but only at the cost of knowingly victimizing someone else. But, since this ill-advised deal serves both to reconnect the plot to the related travails of Katie and her boyfriend, Micah (Micah Sloat), and to set up a third installment, to say more would be a spoiler.

The film contains occasional intense but stylized violence, a few uses of profanity, some rough and crude language and a handful of mild sexual references. The Catholic News Service Classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.





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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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