Paranormal Activity (film series)

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Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Activity poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster for the first film.
Directed by Oren Peli (PA1)
Kip Williams (PA2)
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (PA3 and 4)
Christopher B. Landon (PA: TMO)
Gregory Plotkin (PA: TGD)
Produced by Oren Peli (PA1-TGD)
Jason Blum (PA1-TGD)
Akiva Goldsman (PA2 and 3)
Steven Schneider (PA1, 3 and 4)
Written by Oren Peli (PA1)
Michael R. Perry (PA2)
Christopher B. Landon (PA2, 3, 4 and TMO)
Tom Pabst (PA2)
Jason Pagan and Andrew Stark (PA: TGD)
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
2007 – 2015
Running time
444 minutes (total)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $18.015 million
Box office $811.6 million

Paranormal Activity is an American supernatural horror film series, currently consisting of five films. Created by Oren Peli, the original film was widely released in 2009.

The films are based around a family haunted by a demonic entity, 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 camcorders, security cameras and other recording devices, presenting the films as found footage, and is widely regarded as popularizing the genre. The series has received mixed reviews, with the first and third films receiving generally positive critical reception, while the second and spin-off (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) films received more lukewarm receptions and the fourth received mostly negative reception. The series is a strong financial success, making strong profits based on return on investment. The series as a whole has earned over 40 times the overall budget.


Paranormal Activity (2007)[edit]

Main article: Paranormal Activity

A young couple, Katie and Micah are terrorized by a demon that Katie believes has been following her all her life. The film is designed to look like a found footage-styled film with Micah filming the activity in their household.

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)[edit]

Main article: Paranormal Activity 2

Several weeks before the events of the first film, Katie's sister, Kristi Rey, and her family experiences strange activity after her baby son, Hunter, is born. The film uses security cameras and a hand-held camera used in some scenes to film the activity in the house.

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)[edit]

Main article: Paranormal Activity 3

The film, set in 1988, focuses on a younger Katie and Kristi as they encounter "Toby" the demon for the first time. Their mother, Julie, and her boyfriend, Dennis, get concerned, so he sets up a few cameras around the house; one of which is put on a device that moves the camera back and forth, the film also uses a hand-held camera.

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)[edit]

Main article: Paranormal Activity 4

The film takes place after Paranormal Activity 2 and follows Alex and her family, who begin to experience hauntings concerning her brother Wyatt, after Katie and her mysterious son move in across the street. Alex films the activity via MacBook webcams, Video camera, iPhone camera and Kinect technology.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)[edit]

The film takes place after the events of Paranormal Activity 4 and follows a Latino community in Oxnard, California, where a group of high school graduates deal with the demon of a mysterious cult who have "marked" one of them. They document their experiences using basic tools of recording and with clues from the previous films try to understand what is happening to them.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)[edit]

The sixth installment in the franchise was originally slated for October 2013, and then delayed to October 2014. In June 2014, the film was rumored to have been delayed to 2016.[1] On September 17, 2014, it was announced the movie will be titled Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, and slated to be released on March 13, 2015.[2] On January 27, 2015, the release date was changed again to October 23, 2015.[3] The film is set to feature Katie Featherston, the only actress to appear in all five installments.[4] The film will be directed by Gregory Plotkin, editor of the past four Paranormal Activity films.[5][6]

The film will follow supernatural occurrences that take place in a newly moved family's home. The family consists of four members including Ryan, a game developer, Ryan's wife Emily, a housewife described as "more serious than her young husband—she's constantly on the go, does yoga, and though loving, has an air of maturity about her", their 6-year old daughter Leila, described as "a fearless, opinionated tomboy", and Ryan's younger brother described as a "less fitter, less funkier version of his brother".[7][8]


Character Film
Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Activity 2
Paranormal Activity 3
Paranormal Activity 4
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Katie Katie Featherston Chloe Csengery (young)
Katie Featherston (adult)
Katie Featherston Chloe Csengery (young)
Katie Featherston (adult)
Micah Micah Sloat   Micah Sloat (unknown)
Dr. Fredrichs Mark Fredrichs  
Amber Amber Armstrong  
Diane Ashley Palmer  
Kristi Rey   Sprague Grayden Jessica Tyler Brown (young)
Sprague Grayden (adult)
Sprague Grayden (archive footage) Jessica Tyler Brown (young)
Daniel Rey   Brian Boland Brian Boland (archive footage)   (unknown)
Ali Rey   Molly Ephraim   Molly Ephraim
Hunter Rey/Wyatt Nelson   Jackson Xenia Prieto (infant)
William Juan Prieto (toddler)
  Aiden Lovekamp (boy)
William Juan Prieto (toddler, archive footage)
Brad   Seth Ginsberg  
Martine   Vivis Cortez  
Dennis   Chris Smith  
Julie   Lauren Bittner  
Lois   Hallie Foote   Hallie Foote
Lisa   Johanna Braddy   (unknown)
Randy Rosen   Dustin Ingram  
Alex Nelson   Kathryn Newton  
Ben   Matt Shively  
Robbie   Brady Allen  
Doug Nelson   Stephen Dunham  
Holly Nelson   Alexondra Lee  
Jesse Arista   Andrew Jacobs
Hector Estrella   Jorge Diaz
Marisol Vargas   Gabrielle Walsh
Irma Arista   Renée Victor
Ana Sanchez   Gloria Sandoval
Arturo Lopez   Richard Cabral
Oscar Lopez   Carlos Pratts
Santo   Juan Vasquez
Ryan   Chris J. Murray
Emily   Brit Shaw
Leila   Ivy George


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 reason for making 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 as 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. Kip 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 spin-off film, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was released on January 3, 2014. Oren Peli, the creator of the franchise, returned to produce the spin-off. Christopher B. Landon, a screenwriter who had worked on the prior three entries in the series served as the writer and director.

The fifth and final film in the series, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension,[3] was announced to be released on October 25, 2013.[9] However, in August 2013, the release date was pushed back to October 24, 2014.[10] On September 17, 2014, the film's title was finalized and the release date was set on March 27, 2015,[2] later changed to October 23, 2015.[3] In September 2013, it was confirmed that Gregory Plotkin, a film editor who has edited every release in the series since Paranormal Activity 2, will make his directorial debut with the fifth film.[5][11] Oren Peli, the creator of the franchise, and Jason Blum will return to produce the fifth film, and Katie Featherston will reprise her role as Katie. In late September 2013, Paramount hired Almanac writers Jason Pagan and Andrew Stark to write the screenplay.[12] Though series writer Christopher B. Landon told that several sequels would follow The Ghost Dimension to wrap up the story,[13] producer Jason Blum later confirmed that the film will indeed be the last in the series.[14] He said:

"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 Toby look like? What’s the backstory to the families? These questions have been teased out. Now they will be answered."


Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office gross Box office ranking Budget Ref(s)
North America Other territories Worldwide All time
North America
All time
Paranormal Activity October 16, 2009 $107,918,810 $85,436,990 $193,355,800 #486 $15,000 [15]
Paranormal Activity 2 October 22, 2010 $84,752,907 $92,759,125 $177,512,032 #687 $3 million [16]
Paranormal Activity 3 October 21, 2011 $104,028,807 $103,011,037 $207,039,844 #514 #528 $5 million [17]
Paranormal Activity 4 October 19, 2012 $53,900,335 $88,917,657 $142,817,992 #1,253 $5 million [18]
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones January 3, 2014 $32,462,372 $58,442,482 $90,904,854 #2,142 $5 million [19]
Total $383,084,196 $428,557,399 $811,641,595 $18,015,000
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Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Paranormal Activity 83% (192 reviews)[20] 68% (24 reviews)[21]
Paranormal Activity 2 58% (131 reviews)[22] 53% (23 reviews)[23] B[24]
Paranormal Activity 3 68% (117 reviews)[25] 59% (25 reviews)[26] C+[24]
Paranormal Activity 4 24% (103 reviews)[27] 40% (22 reviews)[28] C[24]
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones 37% (78 reviews)[29] 42% (19 reviews)[30] C-[24]
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  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.

Spin-off and Video Game[edit]

Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night[edit]

An unofficial Japanese 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. This confirms that the film is non-canonical as the events in Paranormal Activity 4, in which Katie is involved, occurred in 2011.

Video Game[edit]

A video game Paranormal Activity VR will be released in 2016 on PC, PS4, Xbox One and other yet to be announced platforms. The game will make use of the Oculus Rift for the Xbox and Project Morpheus for the PlayStation.[31]


  1. ^ Turek, Ryan (June 18, 2014). "Paranormal Activity 5 Pushed to 2016?!". Shock Till You Drop. 
  2. ^ a b Lang, Brent (September 17, 2014). "‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ Moved to 2015". Variety. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Ge, Linda (January 27, 2015). "New ‘Paranormal Activity,’ ‘Friday the 13th’ Pushed Back; ‘The Ring’ Reboot Gets Release Date". TheWrap. Retrieved January 27, 2015. 
  4. ^ Gallagher, Brian (January 16, 2014). "'Paranormal Activity 5': Katie Featherston Returns and New Character Details Revealed". MovieWeb. Watchr Media. 
  5. ^ a b Chavez, Kellvin (September 27, 2013). "Gregory Plotkin to Direct 'Paranormal Activity 5'". Latino Review. 
  6. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (September 26, 2013). "Gregory Plotkin Scares up Directing Debut on 'Paranormal 5.'". Retrieved September 26, 2013. 
  7. ^ Williams, Owen (21 January 2014). "First Paranormal Activity 5 Plot Details". Empire. Bauer Media Group. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "First Character Details Revealed for Paranormal Activity 5". January 16, 2014. 
  9. ^ Kilday, Gregg (November 20, 2012). "Paramount Sets Release Date for 'Paranormal Activity 5'". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  10. ^ "Paramount Sets Dates for 'Paranormal Activity 5,' Retitled Latino Spin-Off". The Wrap. August 8, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  11. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (September 26, 2013). "Gregory Plotkin Scares up Directing Debut on 'Paranormal 5.'". Retrieved September 26, 2013. 
  12. ^ Kit, Borys (September 25, 2013). "'Paranormal Activity 5' Snags 'Almanac' Writers (Exclusive)". Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  13. ^ Lussier, Germain (January 6, 2014). "Exclusive: ‘Paranormal Activity’ Creators Have Planned an Ultimate Ending for the Series". /Film. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Paranormal Activity (2007)". Box Office Mojo., Inc. 
  16. ^ "Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)". Box Office Mojo., Inc. 
  17. ^ "Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)". Box Office Mojo., Inc. 
  18. ^ "Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)". Box Office Mojo., Inc. 
  19. ^ "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones". Box Office Mojo., Inc. 
  20. ^ "Paranormal Activity". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  21. ^ "Paranormal Activity Reviews, Ratings, and Credit". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-10-22. 
  22. ^ "Paranormal Activity 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  23. ^ "Paranormal Activity 2 Reviews, Ratings, and Credit". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-10-22. 
  24. ^ a b c d "CinemaScore". Retrieved March 8, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Paranormal Activity 3". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  26. ^ "Paranormal Activity 3 Reviews, Ratings, and Credit". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-10-22. 
  27. ^ "Paranormal Activity 4". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2012-11-26. 
  28. ^ "Paranormal Activity 4 Reviews, Ratings, and Credit". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-10-22. 
  29. ^ "Paranormal Activity: The Marked One". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  30. ^ "Paranormal Activity: The Marked One Reviews, Ratings, and Credit". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  31. ^