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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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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, I am sure there are frequently tiny miracles where you protect us and are present to us although you always remain anonymous. Help me appreciate how carefully you watch over me and my loved ones all day long, and be sensitive enough to stay close to you. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

 
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