Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night Review
While browsing the web one night, I stumbled across a title that made me chuckle a bit; Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night. I have to admit that I thought it was some sort of XXX parody of Paranormal Activity. I was wrong.
Kudos to Japanese filmmakers for doing what seems to be common-place in the US these days, that is, ripping off movies from other countries. Despite this, there is a disclaimer prior to the film beginning that states: “Based on the film Paranormal Activity by Oren Peli.” Credit where credit is due is much appreciated unlike others (ie. Quarantine). Unfortunately, they couldn’t quite deliver.
Rather than being a direct remake and/or re-imagining of the original Peli film, Tokyo Night is more of a spin-off in that the film takes place shortly after the events of the American film, but, with different characters, different storyline and a different country altogether. The connection? I’ll get to that in a bit. In what is being dubbed a “parallel sequel”, Paramount Pictures gave a Japanese production company the thumbs up to produce this indie film. The result is that there are, not one, but two sequels to Paranormal Activity: the American version and the Japanese version.
The film itself was a rather unique project taken on by Paramount in that it allowed a Japanese production company to make a film in the Paranormal Activity universe very much like fan-fiction or fan-movies that are sprawled all over the internet. Tokyo Night was directed by Toshikazu Nagae and centers around brother and sister Koichi (Aoi Nakamura) and Haruka Yamano (Noriko Aoyama), who has just returned from a trip in America where she was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of a young woman; Haruka was temporarily disabled and confined to a wheelchair.
Much like Micah in the original film, who played the annoying boyfriend, Koichi served as his Asian counterpart who spends a good part of the movie behind the camera intent on capturing something paranormal in his sisters’ room. Needless to say, there is some sort of activity happening. It is during the night recordings where there are many scenes reminiscent of the original with things like the heavy footsteps, sheets being pulled from the bed, doors opening, etc. What’s different about the night scenes is the fact that, because they are brother and sister, they sleep in separate beds and in separate room which made made for an interesting and sometimes very unnecessary visual; a split screen.
*MINOR SPOILER ALERT* (click and drag with mouse to see text)
The real kicker for me was the explanation as to why these paranormal events are happening to Haruka. Apparently her trip to America was more interesting than she had lead on. Want to take a stab as to where in the US she was visiting? If you said San Diego give yourself a cookie or a nice pat on the back. That’s right, Haruka was in San Diego where the original film took place! But wait, it gets better. Remember that car accident Haruka was involved in during her trip? Apparently the young woman she ran over with her car had just killed her boyfriend and was wandering the streets in the middle of the night. Sound familiar? Yep, that would be good old Katie who had just killed Micah. So there is the tie-in to the original film and where Tokyo Night takes over.
*END OF MINOR SPOILER*
I can’t say that I really enjoyed the film, nor can I say that I hated it in that I have seen far worse movies. Let me put it this way, I enjoyed Paranormal Activity and its American sequel. Now, if you hated the first movie, chances are, you will probably not like this one. However, if you enjoyed Paranormal Activity there’s a chance you might (and I stress the word might) enjoy this film.
For the most part, movie-goers (including myself) cater to the “philosophy” of “been there, done that” and this film brings nothing new to the table. Being that this was a spin-off, it was unfortunate that Nagae did not take advantage of the room for being unique and simply ripped off a couple of scares and “gimmicks” that the original had already introduced but with much lesser effect. It was, I feel, a moment to put your stamp on the project. I didn’t quite get a sense of suspense nor danger with this one and by half-way through the movie I found myself watching simply because of the time I had already invested in viewing the first half.
A valiant effort by director Toshikazu Nagae but, unfortunately, just couldn’t quite get it right. I would say simply watch to satisfy your curiosity, but don’t expect much. Oh, and, beware of the screaming Asian girl! (Very Loud)
No burning Ouija board, instead, we get a spontaneous combustion, fried crucifix!