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Can the secret buzzing sensation of the first film be sustained once audiences know the truth? Paranormal Activity, with its negligible budget, lack of gore and torture porn fetish and no-name stars in a lo-fi presumed first-person presentation got under the skin of audiences. But we know its not real now, so where can the franchise go next?

How about back to the beginning, for a kinda-sorta prequel that actually frames the first film and quietly advances things by the end, to the point where we know there’s more to come but we’re still not sure what’s going on.

This time out, we backtrack a few months and are introduced to the extended family of Katie (Katie Featherston), the possessed protagonist of the first film. Her sister Kristi arrives home with her husband and newborn son in tow, greeted with love and excitement by her teenage stepdaughter and their Hispanic nanny. After what they assume to be a home invasion, the family installs a multi-camera video surveillance system that tracks and documents the freaky occurrences, as well as their typically inept reactions.

Even though the secret is out, the studio and filmmakers continue to play along with the “presumed” reality of the situation. Creator Oren Peli hands things over to director Tod Williams (The Door in the Floor) and writers Michael R. Perry and Christopher Landon for an experience that seems anything but normal for a horror franchise, which amazingly still generates high hopes for future activities. Grade: B+