The Paranormal Activity Movies Ranked

The Paranormal Activity franchise ranked

The Paranormal Activity movies ranked

While it might sound crazy, the Paranormal Activity franchise is actually one of the most creative and exciting series of horror films that we’ve seen in the 21st century. Each one has unique redeeming qualities that make this franchise worth defending, and each one (apart from the first) was treated unfairly by critics despite this. The pile-on that occurred after the release of many of these films isn’t really fair, especially in hindsight.

The Paranormal Activity movies ended back in 2015, but the impact that this series had on the found-footage horror genre is still being felt today. It owes a lot to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, one of the first horror movies to trick its audience into thinking it was real, but it actually deserves to be recognized for its ability to stand alone. There’s nothing like the Paranormal Activity series, and there’s something to love about each one of them.

Paranormal Activity 2

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How many movies do you know that double as both a prequel AND a sequel? By the time this prequel catches up to the timeline of the first movie, it takes an unexpected and exciting turn when it goes beyond and shows what happens after the events of the first film. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this movie is the Godfather: Part II of horror movie sequels.

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Paranormal Activity 3

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Another prequel, this film takes viewers back to the late 80s to show the childhood beginnings of Katie and Kristi (the sisters that lead the first two films). While it’s formally the same, “found footage” assembled into a narrative feature, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have some fun with the idea of found footage by placing cameras on top of oscillating fans, up in the corners of rooms, and in the hands of the young girls throughout the film. This creativity makes for some of the best scares in the series.

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Paranormal Activity

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The very first film in the series is probably the weakest of the original trilogy, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not good. It’s incredibly slow-burning, taking its time to flesh out its characters (a rare move for a cheap horror movie) before bringing the scares in slowly and steadily. This movie really put Blumhouse on the map, and for a good reason: it’s a really great, really innovative movie.

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Paranormal Activity 4

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Taking viewers back to the present to show what happened after the events of the first two films, Paranormal Activity has some fun with some modern technology — webcams, house alarms, cell phones — to create some more up-to-date scares. The film also does a great job subverting expectations — instead of employing true scares throughout the movie, some of the best scares are actually fake-outs that take your breath away and keep you on your toes waiting for the next jump.

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Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

The Paranormal Activity franchise ranked

In the same vein as Paranormal Activity 2, how many movies do you know that double as both a spinoff AND a direct sequel? The Marked Ones deserves to be lauded for its ability to shock viewers with a huge twist in its final moments, but it also does a magnificent job of being one of the only mainstream studio features to have a cast of largely Latinx actors and actresses.

Purchase now on Amazon for $9.99.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

The final installment of the series (much to my dismay), The Ghost Dimension adds a fun element to the mix: you can SEE the ghosts now. Using a special camera that inexplicably allows the viewer to see the apparitions, the movie makes for a suspenseful and satisfying experience — who knew that actually seeing the ghosts would be enough to spice things up?

Purchase now on Amazon for $9.99.

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