From its relatively simple beginnings as a movie about a young couple who decide to film the things that go bump in the night, the Paranormal Activity series has built up a fairly elaborate mythos around this basic central conceit. As of the most recent film, Paranormal Activity 4, the ongoing plot now includes demonic symbols, complex child abduction plots, ritual sacrifice and witch coven conspiracies. It's all a very long way from a door opening by a few inches in the night.
Given how cheap the Paranormal Activity movies are to produce, and their relative popularity, it seems like the ghostly train won't be stopping any time soon, unless one of the sequels manages to gross less than even the few million that constitutes the budget for it. A desire to capitalize on this profitability may be the reason why there are currently two Paranormal Activity movies in production: direct sequel Paranormal Activity 5 and Latino spin-off Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.
Paramount Pictures revealed the spin-off's subtitle this week, and also confirmed release dates for both films. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones will start the year off on January 3, 2014, while Paranormal Activity 5 will be released in good time for for Halloween on October 24, 2014. Little is known about the plot of either of these, except that Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones will be about a Catholic inquiry into a suspected demonic possession, and that it may take place in a parallel universe relative to the films in the main series. Both movies have been pushed back by about a year or so from their original planned 2013 release dates.
For fans of the Paranormal Activity series, the news of two movies in one year will no doubt be cause for delight, but it's difficult not to question the mileage of this concept. Paranormal Activity 4 started to feel a bit strained when the directors resorted to "jump scares" such as a cat suddenly pouncing in front of the camera, and many of the loud bangs and thumps are starting to feel like they're designed purely to get a good audience reaction shot to use in the marketing, rather than because it makes for a genuinely scary film.
Because of this, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is probably the more interesting of the two releases, since it will apparently break away from the ongoing narrative of the other films and start a new story afresh, hopefully with an entirely new creative team behind it.
Will you be in the theater for one of these Paranormal Activity movies, neither of them, or both?
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is out on wide release from January 3, 2014.
Paranormal Activity 5 will be in theaters on October 24, 2014.