An ingenious marketing campaign coupled with reinvigorating the found footage subgenre. These movies thrive for many reasons but one of them that doesn’t often get mentioned is how grounded in reality the characters and dialogue feel. The casual depictions of the characters early on makes the horror of the movies all the more tragic. We can so often detach from horror film characters (e.g. “they’re stupid”, “they are completely unlikable”), that we don’t feel a connection to the situation or what’s happening to them. It’s not that characters in these films are continuously charismatic either, instead they merely strike enough chords to people you know or conversations you’ve had to feel real. They are so witty and full of life initially that it is painful to watch them slowly become emotionally drained over the course of the films. That, coupled with the slow escalation of paranormal moments, are why these films are so brilliant.
The chronological order of these films is 3, 2, 1, 4, Ghost Dimension, and the prequels/sequels detail a rich backstory.
Scare Factor: 3/5 – these movies have some effective jump scares, and I’ve had the sensation of being creeped out by the ambient sounds of a new place. But I have never lived in a forever home and experienced those sounds so these movies aren’t as effective for me. The demon has been attached to a particular person their whole life so as long as you avoid someone with that issue you will be fine.
If nothing else Watch: Paranormal Activity 1
If you can watch: Paranormal Activity 2, 3, and The Marked Ones (the latter is focused on a Mexican-American teenagers in an apartment complex which is a notable distinqushment from the others which all focus on middle to upper class white families).
If you want to laugh/go for broke watch: Paranormal Activity 4 and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension