Paranormal Activity (film series)
|Created by||Oren Peli|
|Original work||Paranormal Activity|
|Owner||Blumhouse Productions & Paramount Pictures|
|Films and television|
Paranormal Activity is an American supernatural horror franchise consisting of seven films and additional media. Created by Oren Peli, the original film premiered in 2007 and was widely released in 2009.
The films are typically based around various families who become haunted by the demon Asmodeus "Tobi" of the Book of Tobit, that stalks, terrifies and ultimately murders several members of the family and other bystanders during the course of the films. The series makes use of production cameras set up and used security cameras or other recording devices in an attempt to present the films as found footage.
The series has received overall mixed reviews across all films. The first and third films received generally positive critical reception, the second and fifth films received more mixed reviews, and the fourth, sixth and seventh received mostly negative reviews. The series was financially successful, making strong profits based on return on investment. The series as a whole has grossed over thirty times the overall budget.
A seventh mainline installment, titled Next of Kin, was released on October 29, 2021 to the Paramount+ streaming service.
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Writer(s)||Producers|
|Screenplay by||Story by|
|Paranormal Activity||September 25, 2009||Oren Peli||Jason Blum, Oren Peli, Steven Schneider|
|Paranormal Activity 2||October 22, 2010||Tod Williams||Michael R. Perry, Christopher Landon, Tom Pabst||Michael R. Perry||Jason Blum, Oren Peli|
|Paranormal Activity 3||October 21, 2011||Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman||Christopher Landon||Christopher Landon||Jason Blum, Oren Peli, Steven Schneider|
|Paranormal Activity 4||October 19, 2012||Chad Feehan||Jason Blum, Oren Peli|
|Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones||January 3, 2014||Christopher Landon||Christopher Landon|
|Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension||October 23, 2015||Gregory Plotkin||Jason Pagan, Andrew Deutschman, Gavin Heffernan, Adam Robitel||Brantley Aufill, Jason Harry Pagan, Andrew Deutschman|
|Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin||October 29, 2021||William Eubank||Christopher Landon|
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Set in October 2006, a young couple, Katie and Micah, who have recently moved to a new house in San Diego, California, are terrorized by a demon that has stalked Katie since childhood. The film is designed to look like a found footage-styled film with Micah filming the activity in their house.
Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
Set in August 2006, two months before the events of the first film, Katie's sister Kristi and her family reside in Carlsbad, California, where they experience strange activity after her baby, named Hunter, is born. The film uses security cameras and in some scenes, a hand-held camera to film the activity in the house.
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Set in September 1988, it focuses on a younger Katie and Kristi, who live with their mother Julie and her boyfriend, Dennis, in Santa Rosa, California. As they experience sightings and then encounter "Tobi" the demon for the very first time. Concerned, Dennis decides to set up a few cameras around the house with the help of his friend Randy, who also encounters "Tobi" as well. There are many cameras set around the house, one of which is attached to a small oscillating fan that moves the camera back and forth from the kitchen area to the living room and vice versa. The film also uses a hand-held camera handled mainly by Dennis.
Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
Set in November 2011, the film focuses on Alex Nelson and her family residing in a neighborhood in Henderson, Nevada. The family began to experience hauntings, concerning Alex's adopted brother, Wyatt, after Katie and her mysterious son, Robbie, move in across the street. Alex is helped by her boyfriend, Ben, to film the activity via MacBook webcams, a video camera, an iPhone camera and Kinect technology.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
Set in June 2012, the film follows a Latino community in Oxnard, California, where a group of high school graduates deal with the demon of a mysterious cult which has "marked" one of them. They document their experiences using basic tools of recording and with clues from the previous films to try to understand what is happening to them. The Marked Ones is the last film in the series to feature Katie Featherston.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)
Set in December 2013, the film follows the Fleeges, a family of three who, after having relocated to a house in Santa Rosa, California, discover several tapes, set in 1992, that show Katie and Kristi in the midst of their initiation ritual to enter a demonic coven. The family begins to be haunted by the demon when the daughter, Leila, is targeted as she was born on the same date as Hunter from Paranormal Activity 2. Along with normal recorders, the family also discovers a unique video recorder that can visibly show supernatural happenings, which they use to record the increasing paranormal activities.
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin (2021)
A seventh installment, Next of Kin, was directed by William Eubank with a script by Christopher Landon. Originally scheduled for release on March 19, 2021, the film was delayed to October 29. Due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cinema, the project skipped its theatrical release and was instead released via streaming, as a Paramount+ exclusive film.  This installment features a teenage girl named Margot who, alongside her group of friends, attempt to make a documentary on an Amish community to try and find out more about Margot's mysterious past, only for them to discover the horrific secrets the town holds. Although not addressing the events of its six predecessors, Next of Kin does still have a slight connection by featuring the same demon and overarching antagonist Tobi, otherwise known as Asmodeus from the Book of Tobit.
Cast and crew
- A dark grey cell indicates that the character was not in the film or that the character's presence in the film has yet to be announced.
- An A indicates an appearance through archival footage or stills.
- A C indicates a cameo role.
- A I indicates a infant version of the character.
- A T indicates a toddler version of the character.
- A U indicates an uncredited role.
- A V indicates a voice-only role.
- A Y indicates a younger version of the character.
|Paranormal Activity||Paranormal Activity 2||Paranormal Activity 3||Paranormal Activity 4||Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones||Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension||Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin||Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul|
of the Book of Tobit
|Katie Featherston||Unseen||Katie Featherston||Andrew Jacobs||Mark Steger||Kirby Johnson||Jessica Belkin|
|Katie Featherston||Henry Ayres-Brown||Palmer Naftal|
|Katie||Katie Featherston||Chloe Csengery|
|Chloe CsengeryY||Chloe CsengeryY|
|Micah||Micah Sloat||Micah Sloat|
|Dr. Fredrichs||Mark Fredrichs|
|Kristi Rey (née Featherson)||Sprague Grayden||Sprague Grayden||Archive footage, uncredited||Jessica Tyler Brown|
|Jessica Tyler BrownY|
|Daniel Rey||Brian Boland|
|Ali Rey||Molly Ephraim||Molly Ephraim|
|Jackson Xenia PrietoI||Aiden LovekampY||Aiden Lovekamp|
|William Juan PrietoT||William Juan PrietoUAT|
|Dennis||Chris Smith||Archive footage, uncredited|
|Lois||Hallie Foote||Hallie FooteU||Hallie Foote|
|Randy Rosen||Dustin Ingram|
|Alex Nelson||Kathryn Newton|
|Doug Nelson||Stephen Dunham|
|Holly Nelson||Alexondra Lee|
|Jesse Arista||Andrew Jacobs|
|Hector Estrella||Jorge Diaz|
|Marisol Vargas||Gabrielle Walsh|
|Irma Arista||Renée Victor|
|Arturo Lopez||Richard Cabral|
|Ryan Fleege||Chris J. Murray|
|Emily Fleege||Brit Shaw|
|Mike Fleege||Dan Gill|
|Leila Fleege||Ivy George|
|Skyler||Olivia Taylor Dudley|
|Chris||Roland Buck III|
|Samuel Belier||Henry Ayres-Brown|
|Jacob Belier||Tom Nowicki|
|Kat Thomas||Jessica Belkin|
|Blake Thomas||Palmer Naftal|
|The Witch||Emily O'Brien|
First-time director Oren Peli had been afraid of ghosts his whole life, even fearing the comedy film Ghostbusters, but intended to channel that fear into something positive and productive. Peli took a year to prepare his own house for shooting, going so far as to repaint the walls, add furniture, put in a carpet, and build a stairwell. In this time, he also did extensive research into paranormal phenomena and demonology stating, "We wanted to be as truthful as we could be." The decision to make the supernatural entity in the story a demon was a result of the research pointing to the most malevolent and violent entities being "demons."
The phenomena in the film take place largely at night—the vulnerability of being asleep, Peli reasoned, taps into a human being's most primal fear, stating, "If something is lurking in your home there's not much you can do about it."
Attempting to focus on believability rather than action and gore, Peli chose to shoot the picture with a home video camera. In deciding on a more raw and stationary format (the camera was almost always sitting on a tripod or something else) and eliminating the need for a camera crew, a "higher degree of plausibility" was created for the audience and they were "more invested in the story and the characters". Peli says that the dialogue was "natural" because there was no real script. Instead, the actors were given outlines of the story and situations to improvise, a technique known as "retroscripting" used in the making of The Blair Witch Project.
In casting the movie, Peli auditioned "a few hundred people" before finally meeting Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat. He originally auditioned them individually and later called them back to audition together. Peli was impressed with the chemistry between the actors, saying, "If you saw the footage, you would've thought they had known each other for years." During a guest appearance on The Jay Leno Show on November 3, 2009, Sloat and Featherston explained they each saw the casting call on LACasting. Featherston noted they were originally paid $500 for their work. The film was shot out of sequence due to Peli's self-imposed seven-day shooting schedule, though Peli would have preferred the story unfold for the actors as he had envisioned it. Sloat, who controlled the camera for a good deal of the film, was a former cameraman at his university's TV station. "It was a very intense week", Peli recalled, stating that the film would be shot day and night, edited at the same time, and would have the visual effects applied to it as the acting footage was being finalized.
Paramount and DreamWorks hired screenwriter Michael R. Perry to create Paranormal Activity 2. Oren Peli, the director of the first film, served as a producer for this prequel. Kevin Greutert, director of Saw VI, was initially hired to direct the prequel; however, Lions Gate Entertainment exercised a clause in Greutert's contract to have him direct the final film in the Saw film series. Both of the actors from the first film, Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, reprise their roles in the prequel. Tod Williams directed Paranormal Activity 2, which started production in May 2010 and was released in October the same year.
Paranormal Activity 3 and 4 were directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, documentary filmmakers who were well-known for their feature debut Catfish. Production on the third entry began in June, 2011, with a release October 21 of the same year. Filming for the fourth film commenced in June, 2012, with a release of October 19.
A Latin American-themed fifth film, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was released on January 3, 2014. Oren Peli, the creator of the franchise, returned to produce the film, while Christopher Landon, a screenwriter who had worked on the prior three entries in the series, served as the writer and director.
The sixth film in the series, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, was announced to be released on October 25, 2013. However, in August 2013, the release date was pushed back to October 24, 2014.
On September 17, 2014, the film's title was finalized and the release date was set on March 27, 2015, later changed to October 23, 2015.
In September 2013, it was confirmed that Gregory Plotkin, a film editor who had edited every release in the series since Paranormal Activity 2, would make his directorial debut with the sixth film. Oren Peli, the creator of the franchise, and Jason Blum would return to produce the sixth film. In late September 2013, Paramount hired Almanac writers Jason Pagan and Andrew Stark to write the screenplay. Though series writer Christopher Landon said that several sequels would follow The Ghost Dimension to wrap up the story, producer Jason Blum later confirmed that the film would indeed be the last in the series.
"It’s coming to an end. This is it, the finale. We’re saying it before the movie opens. We’re not going to grind this horror franchise into the ground. This will keep Paranormal Activity as part of this culture and this particular time in a really fantastic way… All the questions that everyone has asked from the past 'Paranormal Activity' films: What does Tob- look like? What’s the backstory to the families? These questions have been teased out. Now they will be answered."
A seventh film was released on October 29, 2021.
Box office performance
|Films||Release date||Box Office Gross||Box Office Ranking||Budget||Ref.|
|North America||Other territories||Worldwide||All time
|Paranormal Activity||Oct. 14, 2007||$107,918,810||$85,436,990||$193,355,800||#486||$15,000|||
|Paranormal Activity 2||Oct. 22, 2010||$84,752,907||$92,759,125||$177,512,032||#687||$3 million|||
|Paranormal Activity 3||Oct. 21, 2011||$104,028,807||$103,011,037||$207,039,844||#514||#528||$5 million|||
|Paranormal Activity 4||Oct. 19, 2012||$53,900,335||$88,917,657||$142,817,992||#1,253||$5 million|||
|Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones||Jan. 3, 2014||$32,462,372||$58,442,482||$90,904,854||#2,142||$5 million|||
|Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension||Oct. 23, 2015||$18,300,124||$60,603,000||$78,903,124||#3,288||$10 million|||
|Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin||Oct. 29, 2021|||
Critical and public response
|Paranormal Activity||83% (204 reviews)||68 (24 reviews)||—|
|Paranormal Activity 2||58% (136 reviews)||53 (23 reviews)||B|
|Paranormal Activity 3||67% (124 reviews)||59 (25 reviews)||C+|
|Paranormal Activity 4||23% (111 reviews)||40 (22 reviews)||C|
|Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones||39% (82 reviews)||42 (19 reviews)||C−|
|Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension||14% (77 reviews)||30 (13 reviews)||C|
|Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin||26% (39 reviews)||37 (12 reviews)||—|
In December 2009, a short digital comic entitled Paranormal Activity: The Search for Katie was released for the iPhone. It was written by Scott Lobdell and features art from Mark Badger.
A augmented reality game called Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary developed by Ogmento, was released in 2011. This mobile game was the first location-based augmented reality game ever produced, and combined vision-based AR with user-generated content and geo-social elements.
A video game called Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul was released on August 15, 2017 for Microsoft Windows and PS4. The game was engineered for VR and made use of the PlayStation VR for the PlayStation as well as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive for Windows, but VR was not required for play.
The game was nominated for "Best Sound Design for an Indie Game" at the 16th Annual Game Audio Network Guild Awards.
A documentary about the making of the films called Unknown Dimension: The Story of Paranormal Activity, was released on October 29, 2021.
A non-canon Japanese language Paranormal Activity sequel was released in 2010. It follows Haruka Yamano, who was in a car accident that broke her legs. She stayed home with her brother while their father was away as strange activity started happening in the house. It is later revealed that Haruka killed the possessed Katie in the car accident, causing the demon to transfer to her.
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- Official website (Archived)