The sequel to 2009’s low-budget hit Paranormal Activity defied the odds by not sucking. Director Tod Williams and producer Jason Blum share their secrets.
Embrace Audience Skepticism
The moment PA2 was announced, bloggers scoffed at what they assumed would be as lousy a flick as Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. So the filmmakers kept that in mind. ”Oren [Peli, who directed Paranormal Activity and produced the sequel] drove it into our heads: Respect the audience and don’t condescend,” says Blum. Adds Williams, ”We couldn’t assume we’d inherit fans’ love. We had to earn it again.” Which they did by accepting that they needed to…
BW2 flaunted its glossy look and fat budget. At $3 million, PA2’s budget was 200 times that of the original, but Blum and Williams stuck to the gritty found-footage feel. ”Sequels to small movies aren’t about bells and whistles but about a particular voice,” says Blum. ”We had every resource at our disposal, but any time our eyes started to get too big, Oren and Paramount pushed us to stay true to the language, pace, and tone of the first movie.”
For all its faithfulness, PA2 isn’t a mere carbon copy of the original. It introduces a new cast and a creepy new backstory that — wouldn’t you know it? — allows for the possibility of a third film. Will that happen? ”If we came up with something cool and authentic,” says Blum, ”I don’t think we’d run for the hills.”