"Paranormal Activity 4" Gives the Series a New Slant

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
November 12th, 2012

"Paranormal Activity 4" Gives the Series a New Slant

-- When "Paranormal Activity" finally came out in 2009, it did so after two years of screenings on the horror film festival circuit. It had a great word-of-mouth following after it was finished in 2007, but it wasn't until legendary director Steven Spielberg saw it that it went into distribution to movie theaters. It became an instant phenomenon, earning $108 million from a miniscule production budget of $15,000. Not only was a sequel quickly put into production, but it was filmed quickly. The follow-up did not need two years to find its way to movie theaters. In fact, since 2009, a new movie has been added to the franchise each year, usually around Halloween.

The first film focuses on a young San Diego couple, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat). Living together in a suburban house, they seem to be happy and well-adjusted until Katie begins to hear sounds around the house. She hears them when no one else is home and begins to worry. Micah sets up several cameras to see if they catch anything strange while they are sleeping because most of the noise happens at night.

The cameras do begin to pick up several strange occurrences, like doors opening and closing when no one is touching them. The incidents get increasingly scarier until the entity in their home finally gets violent, trying to drag Katie away during the night. The spirit, thought to be a demon, possesses Katie, which eventually ends in tragedy. The original ending was changed at the behest of Spielberg before it was released in theaters.

A year later, "Paranormal Activity 2" was issued, and it focuses on Katie's sister, Kristi. She is a new mother who seems to have the perfect life. Her husband is loving and attentive, her stepdaughter seems to really get along with her, and her new son Hunter is cute as a button. Unfortunately, things start to happen around Kristi's house, not unlike the spooky things that were happening in Katie's home in the first film.

Like Micah, Kristi's husband has cameras trained on various parts of the house in the hopes of solving the mysterious occurrences. The family nanny senses the spirit that is invading the house, eventually becoming so spooked that she leaves the house. The demon, thought to be the same one that possessed Katie, possesses Kristi. Frantic, her husband brings the nanny back to cast a spell that will drive the demon from Kristi. Unfortunately, the demon still has to inhabit someone's body, and that someone eventually becomes Katie. The possessed Katie kidnaps baby Hunter and takes off to an unknown location.

"Paranormal Activity 3" was released in 2011 and became the best-reviewed film of the series thus far. It is a prequel that shows young Kristi and Katie as children. The older Katie is threatened by a spirit that shows up in the girls' shared bedroom. Kristi, afraid for her sister's life, makes an unknown agreement with Toby, which is the name the girls give to the demon. It is revealed through a series of plot twists why the demon haunts the girls. Their grandmother made an agreement with the evil spirit to give up the next firstborn son in their family. Unfortunately, nothing but girls have been born, which is why Toby targets Hunter in "Paranormal Activity 2." Hunter is the first son born into the family in several decades, and the demon wants him as payment for the contract he had with grandma, who happens to lead a coven of witches.

"Paranormal Activity 4" picks up after the tragic events of the second movie. Katie has moved to Henderson, Nevada, with her young son Robbie, who is thought to be Hunter, her kidnapped nephew. She is still possessed by the same demon who has been tormenting her family since she was a child. She suddenly falls gravely ill, forcing her into the hospital with no one to take care of Robbie. Her neighbors take him in, only to find strange things happening in their home once he begins staying there.

The fourth film is a bit different from the first three, which all featured old footage that was found later. The fourth instead is set in present day and has film that is being taped as events are happening. It also focuses on a completely new family for the first time, bringing new faces into the fold. Before the film even came out, "Paranormal Activity 5" was already announced for release in 2013, though the storyline is unknown.