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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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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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