I genuinely believe that you either love or hate The Paranormal Activity series. I hate it. I find it intensely offensive that they have made five features plus a spin-off. I remember clearly when Paranormal Activity was released. There was a genuine buzz amongst friends. A must-see, a masterpiece, even “great directorial vision” was stated in the media. I have to admit, I was thrown back by the concept. It proved that silence can equally be as powerful in the modern era than just loudness and memorable dialogue. It also proved how effective you can be by just being simple. I bought into the whole idea. It made the unrealistic feel real. They ruined it.
Movies like Paranormal Activity are crowd pleasers. The horror induced CCTV footage was fascinating but the issue is that the concept is incredibly difficult to replicate into a sequel. I understand that there must be a temptation to create one. The first one budgeted at $15k and went on to make $193.4 million. Everyone’s pockets were filled by such a low investment and it was applauded to be a decently crafted movie. Paranormal Activity 2 used most of the same premise and the same simple deliverance that predictably the critics at the time highlighted had become tired. The same concept, but slightly shinier, cost $3 million. Fair enough, it’s box office figures boomed, but this is where I think the Paranormal Activity series highlights that the industry is flawed. I can forgive the series up to this moment, but to then make a third, a fourth, a fifth, a spin-off? That is industry greed and indulgence. I refuse to believe that experts in a room thought from a creative point a view, that this over exhausted series was a good idea.
From a personal point a view I am a non-believer. In fact, I find myself chuckling at some horror concepts, but Paranormal Activity had a way of allowing me to forget that I do not believe in ghosts and demons for 86 minutes. The Conjuring had the same effect. Unfortunately, Paranormal Activity 2 and onwards took away that magic by completely making the unbelievable even more unbelievable.
Frustratingly, I know that one day they will make another one. They will not be able to help themselves. A bunch of executives will sit inside a room, discussing horror concepts, running out of ideas, and someone will blurt:
“Hey guys, what if…”
I will not be annoyed by this point. Just fed up.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.