Paranormal Activity‘ is a great series.  It’s shaped horror the way all the great horror franchises have; ‘Friday the 13th‘, ‘Halloween‘, ‘Nightmare on Elm Street‘, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘ and ‘SAW‘.  Like any long running franchise, there have been ups and there have been downs.  Join Modern Horrors as we recount the best and worst moments in this storied horror machine.

One of the most enduring aspects of ‘Paranormal Activity‘ was unknowingly foreshadowed in the very first trailer. Half of the fun of seeing a PA movie in the theater is jumping along out of your skin with half of the audience… oh and that guy talking to the screen ha ha

PA Audience Reaction 2

I don’t think anyone started out hating found footage. But after years of the same movie in different situations, and filmmakers that treat the technique as a gimmick rather than a narrative decision, found footage has finally reached a boiling point. When Hollywood executives start changing existing properties to match a trend, you know things are going downhill.

Found Footage

If there’s one thing that ‘Paranormal Activity‘ is good at, it’s showing nothing and making you want more. Seriously, how many times have these films shown absolutely nothing happening and it works perfectly!?! Others have tried, but for some reason the tension never works as well as it does in the PA series.

PA tension

After creating a tremendously scary and nerve wracking first installment of what would eventually be a cultural touchstone, how was Blumhouse Productions supposed to top ‘Paranormal Activity‘? With terrible, trendsetting CGI of course!


Of the many creepy elements in the PA series, one of the most effective is the use of creepy kids. Whether it’s the eerie sisters Katie and Kristy in PA3, or the seemingly innocent Robbie in PA4, the series knows how to make kids terrifying.
Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown star in the third installment of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, seriously spooked by the entity in their home. (Courtesy Photo)
Since the logical basis for the PA series is that we are viewing “found footage”, this inevitably means that everyone involved must face a terrible and brutal death at the end of the film. While some of the films’ conclusions work, most don’t and the worst aspect of the PA “shock” ending is that it inspired Hollywood to drive this gimmick into the ground as it usually does.

PA 4 ending

Those trailers for the first ‘Paranormal Activity‘ were genius. They relayed the intensity of the movie through the best possible venue, the reaction of the audience. They were so good that, like any Hollywood achievement, they’ve been endlessly copied to death.

Paranormal reaction

In ‘Paranormal Activity 2‘, it goes back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. For some reason, director Todd Williams decides to focus on this damn device for no apparent reason as it does absolutely nothing for half the movie.

Paranormal 2 pool cleaner

In the first PA, Katie is a sympathetic woman with a phobia and a demon stalker. We empathize with her, and we fall in love with her. As the series moves on, Katie morphs into something terrible and awesome. The official ‘Paranormal Activity‘ Boogeyman may have started as Toby, but is most assuredly Katie now.

Katie Featherston good

After five sequels, Katie has finally overstayed her welcome. In PA 2, her inclusion was clever, intriguing and twisty. In PA: The Marked Ones, her inclusion was painful, pandering and predictable.

Katie Featherston bad