Here is my ranking (from least favourite to most favourite) of the films within the Paranormal Activity franchise, with a short explanation accompanying each:
#6 – Paranormal Activity 4
I still don’t understand why Hunter was put up for adoption…
#5 – Paranormal Activity 2
It has some good jump scares but it does little to add to the mythology and doesn’t stray far from the formula of the original.
#4 – Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
It attempts to tie everything together and is largely successful but the novelty of the 3D wears off after the first time.
#3 – Paranormal Activity
The original spawned countless sequels and reinvigorated the ‘found footage’ sub genre of horror. It’s a slow burner and uses sound to build tension and not cheapen the jump scares.
#2 – Paranormal Activity 3
Though it uses many of the tropes from the previous two installments it balances familiarity, originality and the deepening of the mythology which builds anticipation for a sequel (even if 4 is a disappointment).
#1 – Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
I have a feeling that many will disagree with The Marked Ones being at the top of my list but for me it was the perfect antidote to the disappointment that was 4. Though the characters at times appeared to be racial stereotypes, by moving away from white suburbia the film was less constrained by what had come before; though I was positively surprised to see it linked to the core timeline. Despite it’s distance from Katie and co some of the risks it took with the mythology became canon and lead to the culmination of the franchise. To me it had less of a reliance upon jump scares and added a darker more psychological aspect to the possessions/hauntings/paranormal activity.
Here’s hoping that it is truly over. I don’t care enough for another sequel now that Toby has physically manifested in whatever year we left him and the girls…