Paranormal Activity is one of the most successful horror franchises in history. Now the popular film series is upping the ante by releasing two films in 2014. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones hits theaters in January of 2014. Even though The Marked Ones is technically the fifth sequel to the original Paranormal Activity film it doesn’t have the official “5” title. That is reserved for a film that will debut around Halloween in 2014. Paranormal Activity 5 will feature more of the characters that fans know from the original film like Katie, the lead character.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is a very different from any other film in the franchise. The story is set in a Latino community in Oxnard, CA. The main character has no connection to Katie or her sister Kristi and it isn’t until the main character finds a box of tapes that contains tapes of Kristi and Katie that fans will start to see where the original story connects to this one. The end of The Marked Ones also ties the story to the upcoming Paranormal Activity 5 film. That sets the stage for 5 to be released later in the year.
Even though The Marked Ones is only loosely tied to the original story it uses a lot of the same gimmicks that the other films have used to portray the demon. There are the same bite marks, the same ability to throw people around, and the same symptoms of possession that are sprinkled throughout the other Paranormal Activity films.
The producers of the film and the studio are anxious to see how The Marked Ones performs. If it goes well it will prove that the Paranormal Activity series is viable even if strays from the original storyline. There is a lot of scope within the main premise of the movie so studios could produce many movies that are tangentially tied to the original story but are set in different places and different times. If the spin-off is a success it will likely lead to more spin off films being produced.
The spin-off also shows that the studio and producers are worried that people are getting tired of the original story of Katie and the demon that has plagued her and her family for generations. But fans are still anxious to find out more about Katie, Hunter, and the family history that was revealed in Paranormal Activity 2 and 3. Paranormal Activity has been a smash hit from the beginning and there is no real evidence that audiences are getting tired of the Activity yet.
Just like the SAW franchise Paranormal Activity started out as a low budget film that was intended to be a one off film. SAW went on to spawn 7 very successful sequels and Paranormal Activity looks like it will reach or surpass that number. The original Paranormal Activity is one of the most successful and innovative films in history. It was shot for only $15,000, most of which was paid for on credit cards by the writer and creator of the film. It was shot in just 2 weeks in the home of the creator. The low budget and shooting in someone’s home made the movie very relatable. Audiences felt like the events unfolding in Katie and Micah’s home could just as easily have taken place in their own homes.
The simple effects that are starting to seem a little contrived in the sequels were new and terrifying in the first film. A hallmark of the Paranormal Activity films is that there are not a lot of visual scares in the film. The filmmakers rely on the power of suggestion and the power of the human imagination to provide the terror. The first film used simple props and effects so well that people were utterly terrified. At some of the first screenings of the movie people actually walked out of the theater in tears, or screaming, visibly shaken by the power of the effects. Even movies with enormous special effects budgets can’t scare people the way their own imaginations can. The creators of the Paranormal Activity films have used that to build up the franchise over the course of several films.
Each of the Paranormal Activity films so far has told a different piece of the same ongoing story. Paranormal Activity 2 focused on Kristi and Katie and the birth of Hunter, and the story is set just a few weeks before the events in the original film. Paranormal Activity 3 is more of a prequel and tells audiences more about the early lives of Kristi and Katie and gives insights into how the demon came into their lives. Paranormal Activity 4 jumps ahead and takes place after the shocking ending of the 1st film by telling audiences where Katie took Hunter after killing Micah.
The events in the 2nd and 3rd films set the stage for the rest of the story by showing that Katie’s family had a multi-generational connection to the demon that went after Katie. Even though the effects used to provide scares in the 2nd and 3rd film were minimal many people consider the first 3 films to be the scariest Paranormal Activity films. Even though the “found film footage” gimmick is getting a little stale, especially in the horror genre, the Paranormal Activity films still manage to use it effectively. None of the subsequent films have had the impact that original Paranormal Activity had but the other films have still been very popular with audiences.
It remains to be seen if Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones will draw audiences away from Paranormal Activity 5 or if it will re-ignite interest in the franchise. But horror fans can be fairly confident that there will be at least a few more Paranormal Activity films before they see the end of the saga of Katie and her family. If the spin-off is successful fans could see future films start to explore the history and the nature of the demon as well which would be a great way to keep the interest of fans and keep the franchise going.