Movies

‘Paranormal Activity’: All Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

‘Paranormal Activity’: All Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

In 2007, a little found-footage horror film titled Paranormal Activity took the festival circuit by storm. No one could have imagined that this movie, with a budget of only $15,000 from an unknown director (Oren Peli) and starring unknown actors (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat), would spawn the most successful found-footage franchise ever made, and its still going 15 years later.

In 2007, a little found-footage horror film titled Paranormal Activity took the festival circuit by storm. No one could have imagined that this movie, with a budget of only $15,000 from an unknown director (Oren Peli) and starring unknown actors (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat), would spawn the most successful found-footage franchise ever made, and its still going 15 years later.

‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ (2015)
The sixth chapter of this series takes place in 2012, six years after the events of the first two films. It follows a new family, the Fleeges, who move into a new home built on the site of Kristi’s (Sprague Grayden) and Katie’s (Featherson) grandmother’s house that burned down in the infamous fire mentioned in the first film. Strange things begin to happen when they discover an ever-moving box of home videos from when Kristi and Katie were kids. They soon realize an evil force is targeting their young daughter.

The weakest entry of the series, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, tries to take the 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 been tormenting people over the previous five films. However, the unnecessary use of 3D technology and the somewhat bloated story prevent it from being great. Originally touted as the final chapter of the series, it seemingly wraps up this long-running story, but due to its other issues, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin’ (2021)
The latest installment in this series, and the first not to be released in theaters, Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin, leaves Kristi and Katie’s story behind to focus on Margot (Emily Bader). She, alongside her friends, decides to make a documentary about her journey to meet her long-lost biological family. They travel out to her family’s farm to meet them and film, but when strange things occur, they quickly realize there’s more to this story than meets the eye.

It was rather unclear during the marketing if this was supposed to be a sequel or a reboot, and since they never reference the events of the previous films, some are still confused. It is thought that the demon Asmodeus (from the Book of Tobit) is actually the same demon from the other movies: it would be an amazing coincidence to choose a demon from the Book of Tobit, while the “other” demon’s name is Tobi. However, this is never confirmed, so fans are left to wonder how (or even if) this film fits into the franchise.

Paranormal Activity 4′ (2012)
Finally, branching out past the first film’s events, Paranormal Activity 4 takes place five years after all the carnage that took place in the first two. The story focuses on a family in Nevada who begins experiencing odd phenomena after a woman named Katie and her strange son Robbie move in across the street.

After the success of the previous three films, it made sense to try to find new and interesting ways to make this movie work, and after seeing it done the year before in Scream 4, the most obvious answer was the use of webcams and cell phones. However, this technique may have worked against them a bit as it took some of the magic away that we got in the previous films, especially when some shots didn’t make sense. The one interesting use of technology was the Xbox Kinect sensor, which gave the audience a room full of green dots that picked up any movement, even that which the human eye couldn’t see. It made for a creepy visual that always held the audience’s attention.

Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night’ (2010)
While 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, gets in a car accident and breaks both her legs. She comes home where her brother must take care of her, but they soon discover something sinister followed her back home from America.

Until the release of Paranormal Activity 4, it was unclear whether this film was canon, as the events seemed to fit without contradiction. This one reuses several story beats and visual shots from the original while also giving it its own spin and incorporating some classic J-horror elements as well. The story also cleverly connects to the original but is undone by future installments, making this side sequel a little out of place.

‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ (2014)
The fifth installment of this franchise steps away from the haunted house trope seen in the previous four. It becomes more of a possession story as recent high school graduate Jesse finds himself marked by a mysterious coven, giving him supernatural abilities. But he and his friends quickly learn that these powers aren’t his but instead belong to a demon.

A unique take within the world of this franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, takes the audience out of the house and into the real world. It does a great job of connecting to past films, directly tying the first three in exciting and creative ways. It introduces a new concept used in the next film and builds upon the growing mythology of Tobi and the Midwives coven.

‘Paranormal Activity 2’ (2010)
The follow-up to the smash hit first film; Paranormal Activity 2, travels back two months before the events with Katie and Micah to reveal that her sister Kristi and her family were dealing with similar problems at their Carlsbad, California home, shortly after the birth of her young son, Hunter.

This film goes beyond the single handheld camera on a tripod. It utilizes multiple static, wall-mounted security cameras, giving the film a much wider scope and allowing audiences to experience the activity all over the house. It does a great job of building on the mythology while giving fans more insight into what went down in the first film. And while the bigger budget, at times, made it feel like a less intimate film, it allowed for much more to be done, giving it a chance to stand separately against the original.

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