All the movies, ranked from worst to best
In 2007, a little found-picture horror film titled paranormal activity stormed the festival circuit. Nobody could have imagined that this film, with a budget of only $15,000 from an unknown director (Oren Peli) and featuring unknown actors (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat), would go on to spawn the most successful found footage franchise ever made, and it’s still going strong 15 years later.
Throughout the franchise’s seven films (and one non-canon sequel), paranormal activity may not always have blocked the landing, but it has built a deep mythology that connects the films in various ways. So, with a new chapter in the series, tentatively titled Paranormal Activity: The Other Sidewhich will be released in 2023, it’s a good time to look at the strongest (and weakest) entries in the long-running franchise.
“Paranormal Activity: The Phantom Dimension” (2015)
The sixth chapter of this series is set in 2012, six years after the events of the first two films. It follows a new family, the Fleeges, who move into a new house built on the site of Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and Katie’s (Featherson) grandmother’s house that burned down in the infamous fire mentioned in the first film. Strange things start to happen when they discover an ever-moving box of home videos from when Kristi and Katie were kids. They soon realize that an evil force is targeting their young daughter.
The weakest entry in the series, Paranormal activity: the ghost dimension, tries to take paranormal activity to a whole new level, giving viewers their most concrete look at the entity known as Tobi, revealing exactly why this entity has tormented people over the previous five films. However, the unnecessary use of 3D technology and the somewhat bloated story prevent it from being great. Originally billed as the final chapter of the series, it seemingly wraps up this long story, but due to its other issues, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
“Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin” (2021)
The final installment in this series, and the first not to be released in theaters, Paranormal Activity: Next of Kindrops Kristi and Katie’s story to focus on Margot (Emilie Bader). She, alongside her friends, decides to make a documentary about her journey to meet her long-lost biological family. They go to his family’s farm to meet them and film, but when strange things happen, they quickly realize that this story is more complex than it seems.
It was unclear during marketing whether this was a sequel or a reboot, and since they never reference the events of the previous films, some are still confused. It is believed that the demon Asmodeus (from the Book of Tobit) is actually the same demon from the other films: it would be an amazing coincidence to choose a demon from the Book of Tobit, when the name of the “other” demon is Tobi. However, that’s never confirmed, so fans are wondering how (or even if) this movie fits into the franchise.
‘Paranormal Activity 4’ (2012)
Finally, beyond the events of the first film, Paranormal activity 4 takes place five years after all the carnage that took place in the first two. The story centers on a Nevada family that begins to experience strange phenomena after a woman named Katie and her strange son Robbie move in across the street.
After the success of the previous three movies, it made sense to try and find new and interesting ways to make this movie work, and after seeing it the year before in Cry 4, the most obvious answer was the use of webcams and cell phones. However, this technique may have worked against them a bit because it took away some of the magic that we had in the previous films, especially when certain shots didn’t make sense. The only interesting use of the technology was the Xbox Kinect sensor, which gave the audience a room full of green dots that picked up any movement, even that the human eye couldn’t see. It created a chilling visual that always grabbed the attention of the audience.
‘Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night’ (2010)
Although not technically part of the main paranormal activity timeline, this non-canon Japanese sequel to the first film is a worthy installment. Set in Tokyo, Japan in 2010, Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night tells the story of a Haruka Yamano (Noriko Aoyama) who, while visiting California, has a car accident and breaks both legs. She returns home where her brother is to take care of her, but they soon discover that something sinister has followed her back from America.
Until the release of Paranormal activity 4, it was unclear if this film was canon, as events seemed to fit together without contradiction. This one reuses several story beats and visual shots from the original while giving it its own spin and also incorporating classic J-horror elements. The story also cleverly connects to the original but is undone by future episodes, making this sequel a bit out of place.
“Paranormal activity: the marked” (2014)
The fifth installment in this franchise moves away from the haunted house trope seen in the previous four. It becomes more of a possession story as Jesse, a recent high school graduate, finds himself scarred by a mysterious coven, giving him supernatural abilities. But he and his friends quickly learn that these powers are not his but rather belong to a demon.
A unique take on the universe of this franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked, takes audiences out of the house and into the real world. It does a great job of connecting to films past, directly tying the first three together in exciting and creative ways. It introduces a new concept used in the upcoming film and builds on the growing mythology of Tobi and the Midwife Clan.
‘Paranormal Activity 2’ (2010)
The sequel to the first hit film; paranormal activity 2, returns two months before the events with Katie and Micah to reveal that her sister Kristi and her family faced similar issues at their home in Carlsbad, California shortly after the birth of her young son, Hunter.
This film goes beyond the simple portable camera on a tripod. It uses multiple static wall-mounted security cameras, giving the film a much wider reach and allowing the audience to experience activity throughout the house. It does a great job building on the mythology while giving fans a better look at what happened in the first movie. And while the larger budget at times made it feel like a less intimate movie, it allowed for so much more, giving it a chance to stand apart from the original.
“Paranormal Activity” (2007)
The first in this long-running franchise, paranormal activity, tells the story of a young couple, Katie and Micah (Sloat), who discover they are haunted by a malevolent spirit of some kind. They decide to set up a camera to try to capture a glimpse of this being, not knowing what they will find.
Oren Peli does a masterful job of creating biting tension at the edge of your seat on such a small budget. What makes this movie so terrifying is that you never really see what’s haunting them. It’s an entirely invisible being tormenting them, and the closest we can see is a glimpse of a shadow on the bedroom door. It’s the start of a story with deep mythology and sets up a filmmaking style that, although used in previous films, gained much more traction after this one.
‘Paranormal Activity 3’ (2011)
In the third chapter of paranormal activity franchise, fans are transported back to 1988, when Kristi and Katie were small children. They begin to have otherworldly experiences, and we are finally introduced to the demon Tobi.
Paranormal activity 3 is by far the best film in the franchise, as it takes all the great things from the first two and adds them in a unique way. Fans get so many new and fascinating elements in this film, including the name of the demon that caused all the chaos in the first two films, the introduction of the witch clan, and the most innovative filming technique used throughout. along the series: the camera. on an oscillating fan. This technique increased the suspense as it moved from room to room, creating fantastical scenes like the ghost sheet and the kitchen cabinets falling from the sky. This movie was the foundation of the mythology that drove the rest of the franchise, and took a great idea and made it even more interesting and unique.
KEEP READING: 10 Best Horror Movies That Will Give You Chills For Weeks