This week at the movies, we’ve got spooky spectres (Paranormal Activity 2, starring Katie Featherston) and supernatural seekers (Hereafter, starring Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard). What do the critics have to say?
Upon its release, Paranormal Activity became something of a cult phenomenon — and the press was almost as intrigued by its budget-to-gross ratio as its lo-fi chills. Now, Paranormal Activity 2 is hitting theaters, and though it’s barely been screened for critics, those who have seen it say it’s a worthy — and very creepy — follow-up. Once again, there’s a house, there are strange, sinister goings-on, and there are cameras everywhere. However, the pundits say Paranormal 2 is no mere rehash — it’s smart, disturbing, and slow-burning, adding depth to the original while standing on its own. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we list some notable directors who got their starts in horror.)
As a director, Clint Eastwood deserves plenty of credit for refusing to play it safe in his august years. However, that doesn’t mean he’s always at the top of his game, and unfortunately, critics say the multi-stranded afterlife meditation Hereafter is an intriguing but ultimately murky misfire. After a French journalist has a near-death experience, she searches for answers; soon, she meets a man (Matt Damon) who can see beyond our worldly sphere. Pundits say Hereafter, despite its thought-provoking premise and sleek visuals, is a bit too melodramatic and dour to fully resonate.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Boxing Gym, legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s examination of the sweet science, is at 92 percent.
Punching the Clown, a quasi-doc/satire about a struggling singer-songwriter, is at 86 percent.
Knucklehead, a WWE family comedy about a man who enters an MMA tourney to save an orphanage, is at 17 percent.
Kalamity, drama about a young man whose return home yields unwelcome secrets, is at zero percent.