This weekend, the horror genre’s most shocking franchise continues with the release of Paranormal Activity 3, the latest found-footage picture about yet another house plagued by an unseen demon. Tapping into the subtleties of the best haunted house movies (see: 1963’s The Haunting), the Oren Peli-created series generates scares through noises and suggestion, not viscera and ultra violence. But the implied frights aren’t what’s so shocking about the Paranormal Activity films—it’s the producers’ ability to consistently improve on the previous entry. In the horror field, where slashers endlessly hack up teenagers in countless sequels, that’s abnormal.
The first sequel, last year’s Paranormal Activity 2, went to great lengths in order to justify its existence, cleverly developing a malicious folklore for its returning characters via a nifty prequel conceit; definitely scarier than Peli’s 2009 original, Paranormal Activity, 2010’s successful Part Two also one-upped Peli’s work in terms of overall quality.
And now, if all of the early reviews and strong word-of-mouth buzz aren’t complete bullshit, directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost (Catfish) have triumphantly bested the second chapter with Paranormal Activity 3. According to the critical feedback, the latest edition, set way back in 1988, is the meanest, darkest, and most aggressively terrifying PA movie yet.
The Paranormal Activity franchise is officially reinvigorating one of the genre’s lamest practices: the cash-grab sequel. Blame the substandard Saw, Friday The 13th, and Halloween follow-ups for the scary movie sequel’s bad name. However, there have been more victories than one might think, the best of which you’ll find here in our countdown of The 25 Best Horror Movie Sequels.
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Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)