The impact that Paranormal Activity has on the horror genre is still creating ripples today. Taking what made The Blair Witch Project so popular, simplifying it and marketing it in a clever way. The first movie in the 6 movie franchise made a hell of a lot of money. But….was it actually a good film?
This is debatable and there are just as many people who hate it as love it. Most can agree that it really dropped in quality as it churned our film after film eventually burning out completely in 2015 (for now).
As a franchise, it doesn’t offend us the way it does some others. We hate what was born from it, the mass influx of copycat found-footage horrors, but believe there are some good films in the series.
So what are they? Well, this is our definitive ranking of the Paranormal Activity series. The order is based off our original review scores with ties being decided by us choosing what one we’d rather watch again.
6 – Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
Our Score: 1/10
The 4th Paranormal Activity is a direct sequel to Paranormal Activity 2 after the prequel that was the third movie. It follows the exact same formula set out so far but with even more diminishing results.
Simply put, Paranormal Activity is an incredibly lazy rehash of the series so far. A pointless watch that can be easily skipped over by fans of the series. Read our full review here.
5 – Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)
Our Score: 1/10
The Ghost Dimension is the current final entry in a series that should never have even had a sequel & promised that for the first time we were going to see the activity. What the hell were we seeing in the previous movies?
What they should have said was that this time we were going to show you every little detail, throwing subtleness out the window in return for awful, predictable jump scares & embarrassing 3D effects. Read our full review here.
4 – Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
Our Score: 3/10
If you’ve seen any of the Paranormal Activity movies before you know how this goes already.
The Marked Ones is a frustrating watch because there are moments of creepiness that really impress early on before the latter half of the movie forgets subtly & tries to beat you over the head with its ‘jump scares’.
A shocking let-down & it is hard to believe what the series has become. It is so ‘in your face’ now & its level of predictability is no longer fun. The minor connections to earlier movies might please long-running fans but for those who just want a quick scare, they should look elsewhere. Unless of course, you love lots of jump-scares. Read our full review here.
3 – Paranormal Activity (2007)
Our Score – 5/10
Paranormal Activity is a slow-burn movie that builds towards a frantic final 5 minutes. Starting out with subtle things like a door moving ever so slightly before people are being dragged out of beds & down hallways. The movie does create an atmosphere during the fixed camera moments in the bedroom & at times it can be quite chilling.
Unfortunately the problems with Paranormal Activity become evident every time one of these scenes end. The two main characters have little chemistry & it’s boring a lot of the time. It’s not character building as neither has anything of interest to say!
As found-footage movies go it’s not too hard to watch. Sure there are plenty of dark, shaky & awful angle moments but this far from the worst.
It hasn’t aged well & the sub-genre has been run into the ground but Paranormal Activity still has things that are enjoyable. The subtle creep factor & bigger moments work well while the oppressive sound effect that builds towards a moment is chilling. Some pretty bad acting, many boring moments and lack of a decent resolution ensures this will not go down in history as a high point of horror. Read our full review here.
2 – Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
Our Score: 6/10
The success of the first Paranormal Activity & the many unanswered questions ensured that a sequel was inevitable.
The movie spends a fair amount of time building characters & setting things up before the ghostly goings on begin. Like before it starts off small, the sort of things any sane person wouldn’t really even notice. The pool cleaner is out of the pool every morning, Hunter’s high chair falls over, a frying pan falls off its hook etc. It’s actually starts to get a bit boring until the films major twist is dropped a short while in.
This was an awesome idea as it starts answering questions regarding some of the events of the first film. Unfortunately it also pretty much spoils it’s ending halfway through.
An improvement over the first movie with a more interesting story, better characters and actors. The logic behind the use of found footage is well done up to a point but a poorly done possession sequence, disbelieving Dad when evidence is staring him in the face and a rushed ending means it’s hardly going to be considered a classic. Read our full review here.
1 – Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Our Score: 8/10
This is the first of the films to actually go into further detail regarding the demons intentions and who might be involved.
The acting is the best of the series so far. There is an undercurrent of constant darkness running through this movie, something that was never as persistent in the earlier films. Considering our expectations surrounding the demon by this stage it is remarkable that any kind of threat still exists!
Had it remained a trilogy, the series would probably be thought of it a much more positive light. Paranormal Activity 3 is a good horror movie and a decent found-footage film. It has many of the problems that I have come to loathe about the genre but actively tries to make it an enjoyable watch.
Sure, there are far too many moments where it makes no sense for the camera to be involved (such as the finale…who brings a camera along for that!?) but for the most part the static images work perfectly fine. In particular the make-shift rotating camera in the living room has one of the best scares of the entire series. Read our full review here.