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Paranormal Activity 2 VS Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night — A comparative study

Opinions varied wildly on the original Paranormal Activity. Some people thought it was awesome, others thought it was lame, but the fact remains it made a shitload of money. And where there's money, there's sequels. Luckily, I was one of the people who thought Paranormal Activity (henceforth PA) was a good movie. Sure, it was no Blair Witch Project, or REC, but it was still really atmospheric and scary as fuck if you believe in things like spirits, which I do. So I pretty much have a weak spot for these kinds of movies. In fact, when I was young, I couldn't even watch them because I'd have nightmares for weeks. As I said in the spotlight on Deserted House, I really like realistic horror, which is why I love the 'handycam' genre.
Anyway, PA made enough money to secure not one, but two sequels. But unlike what any reasonable person might expect (i.e. "it's going to be a trilogy"), Paramount decided to just fuck it and make two sequels at the same time. Well, they didn't have a lot to do with the Japanese one, I suppose, but still it's a bit odd. So it happened that there's two Paranormal Activity 2's out there, a Japanese one subtitled Tokyo Night and an American one without a subtitle. I'm gonna bitch and moan about both of them because I'm cool like that.

01     02 

To start off with some similarities, both movies definitely have the same feel to them. They both still use the handycam viewpoint (although the American one uses it much less) and it's still the same atmosphere that was present in the original movie. Which is good, because otherwise it would've been like The Blair Witch 2. And no one even remembers The Blair Witch 2 because it's a piece of fucking shit. I was actually kind of worried that they'd go BW2 on PA's ass, but luckily that wasn't the case.
Anyway, in both movies we follow a family in their daily lives. In the Japanese one, we look on as a young man is reunited with his sister who was on a trip to America but got into a car accident there which fractured both of her legs, meaning she can't walk for at least half a year and has to be constantly taken care of, which is why she moved back home. Their dad is pretty much always out on business, which is of course the best excuse not to have a strong male in a movie about ghosts. Because no one wants to see Silvester Stalone going at a fucking ghost guns blazing. Well, personally, I wouldn't mind, but it's not what the public wants. At least not in a horror movie. Anyway, so where we're greeted with a lovely and friendly brother and sister in the Japanese PA2, the US versions slaps us in the face with yet another annoying fake American couple. Not that that's very surprising of course since it's an American movie, but why do they have to be dicks all the time? They kind of turn less obnoxious near the middle of the movie when shit goes down, but they're definitely aggravating. At any rate, this family consists of a rich as fuck dad, his big-titted wife who can't seem to dress appropriately for her age, their 2 (or something) year old son and their jailbait daughter. Oh, and they have a dog too. And a pool. Two pools, actually. Well, a pool and a hottub. Did I mention he was rich? Livin' the dream. The American version actually starts off with the dad making a film for his son to see when he gets older, which is nice, I think, because it gives him a reason to be taping everything that's going on. However, they pretty much let go of that entire premise in like 10 minutes when they for some reason start filming their arguments and whatever. It could've worked, but okay. It's better than the Japanese version though. The reason for the filming in the Nip version is seriously "Because I wanted to try it." Great motivation, brah.

04   07  
[A friendly brother and sister VS Annoying rich people]

In my opinion (which is obviously the right one) the Japanese version makes for a much more compelling watch the first half of the movie. Precisely because those Americans are such annoying people. The Japanese dude and his (incredibly fucking cute, by the way) sister (who has an incredibly fucking cute voice, by the way) are really loveable characters and their interactions are both mundane and interesting at the same time, whereas the American family is just…fake. I do like that the rich guy has a Mexican house maid. Who he fires later, by the way. For trying to get rid of ghosts. Silly Mexican hag. There's no ghosts in Amerrikuh.

Anyway, we all know shit will go down, so with the sequel it's really the question of HOW shit will go down. And I have to say it's pretty interesting to see the cultural differences between the two movies.
In the Japanese version, not all that much shit goes down before they come to the conclusion that it's a ghost, and they take it very seriously. Since spirits have always been part of the Japanese society (even if not everyone actually believes in them) it makes sense that they would jump to this conclusion quite soon and enlist the help of a priest to get rid of it. The Americans, however, treat it like you and I would, like some sort of coincidence or bad luck or whatever. The beautiful thing about the PA movies is the way that all the things the ghost does is basically shit that happens in our lives regularly; a pan falls down, a door creaks, a light was on that you thought you turned off, things like that. I like that, because it's realistic and it makes the jump to the supernatural more reasonable. The Japanese version starts off with some pretty inexplicable stuff, so although there is definitely also a clear build up of force there, it's much less mysterious.

Let's talk viewpoints for a second. For everyone who loved the bedroom cam in PA, you should stick with the Japanese version. You can tell it's PA2 because this time, there's not one but TWO cameras! Shit just got real, homies. There's also two rooms (Japanese dude and his sister's), so double the haunting! Tokyo Night has the classic camera-set-up-in-corner-of-the-bedroom style going on, which I do really dig. They also took the fast-forwarding-until-something-happens thing from PA. I think it really adds to the realism. Overall, camerawork wise, the Japanese version is more realistic. There's a lot more use of a hand cam which makes you feel like you're right in there while the American version's viewpoints make you feel a little more detached.
That's because the American version uses fixed camera viewpoints. Rich guy dec
ided he wanted to install some security cameras in his house, so that's basically what you'll be watching most of the time. It's a good way to get a lot of angles, but as I said it does feel a little further away from you. The angles are great though. Really wide, and they catch like the entire room, so every time you hear something you've gotta look around your screen to see where the shit's going down.

 

06    05

Both movies have a bit of an 'added scare bonus'. In the American one, it's because they have a small child, and in the Japanese one it's because Japanese dude's sister has two broken legs and hence can't move a muscle without his help. I think that worked out a lot better in the Japanese one, because in the beginning all the stuff is happening in the girl's room, and
if you imagine being her and not even being able to get up and walk away, it's definitely a lot more scary. The kid's got some sympathy going for him, I guess, but since he's just a kid it's not like he can act scared or anything really well. The US version does have the added bonus of a dog though, and as we all know dogs are horror movie gold. Especially in ghost movies. Because dogs have like 16 senses and can catch up on all ghosts ever.

So it seems like I'm totally biased towards the Japanese movie, right? Well, that's not completely true. Tokyo Night is definitely the better of the two movies in that it's much more engaging and interesting to watch, but not a lot of shit goes down there. You bet your ass it's still scary, but the American version takes it up a notch. Although, to be honest, neither one really gets to the same force as the original PA for some reason, while I had actually feared they'd go too overboard. But when shit gets real in the US version, shit gets REAL. When shit gets real in the Nippon version, Japanese dude pretty much just runs out headlong into the horribly contrived and predictable ending. Not that the ending to the original PA was any good. Seriously I watched like 5 alternate endings to that motherfucker and they all sucked ass. The American PA2 does have a decent ending though, I guess. At least it makes sense. The Japanese one makes sense too but it's really tacky.

03    37875484172947348195 

"So, in the end, which one do I watch?"
I would recommend watching both, obviously, since it would be fun to notice the differences in style and characters, but if you really only want to waste 90 minutes on this instead of 180, I'd say go for the Japanese one. The ghost might not be as vicious as the one in the US version, but the movie has a much better atmosphere and much more likeable characters. You definitely won't feel cheated out of your 90 minutes.

You can torrent the American Version here. Subtitles here.
And the Japanese Version here. Subtitles were done by nagal from Avistaz, who is a lifesaver because the only other subtitles available were direct translations from the Russian camrip that still had Russian words in it. Painful. I reuploaded the subs to mediafire for you.

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2 comments on “Paranormal Activity 2 VS Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night — A comparative study

  1. Hoekie
    5 April 2011

    Paranormal Activity 2 vond k niet zo boeiend. Japanese version (nog) niet gezien.En kan me idd niets herrinneren van the blair witch project 2 ;)

  2. Roy
    6 April 2011

    Ben benieuwd hoor pa2 in Tokio ziet er veelbelovend uit.

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This entry was posted on 5 April 2011 by in Film, Reviews and tagged , , .

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