Paranormal activity 1-4 (NEW Tetralogy analysis !!)

How good, and what are they about ? “Contains spoilers”.

Paranormal activity introduction

For our second movie analysis, we combine our last article of (Paranormal activity 1 and 2), with our NEW analysis of (Paranormal activity 3 and 4) and add a series so far summary.

For those who missed our last post, here is a brief recap of the concept behind the Paranormal activity films:

“Footage in a haunted home captures events, focusing on how evil entities affect the inhabitants lives”.

At the time of this post update, I have seen and reviewed films 1-4. I refer to them as “Film” before the number, after titling it it’s official title, e.g. “Paranormal activity 1”, below. After this official title, I give a rating out of 10 in brackets to 2 decimal places.

Paranormal activity 1 (8.00/10)

Released in 2007, Film 1 features an adult couple who move into a property. The idea of moving into a new house can be intimidating, and unusual surroundings and environment, typically act as a key element to any horror. Individuals become possessed throughout a demonic visit to their new property. This allegedly follows one of the couple into the house, and eventually takes over her mind and body. Most paranormal activity occurs during the night, enhancing the hiding places for evil.

The idea of Found footage works well in the first 2 films. It refuses to direct your eye to the paranormal activity occurring, resulting in increased suspense, while you look for it. The use of cameras installed by concerned residents, begins that notion of tension in the first film.
With the couple the sole focus, this means there are only 2 individuals affected. This detracts from the fear factor compared to later episodes.
The second movie, features a larger group of people and a pet dog. This brings in more action, and targets for evil.
Film 1 also lacks coverage of the entire home, focusing on the bedroom, unlike the second which shows the full house and pool outside. This variety in camera footage adds variety, promoting interest in occurring events.

The main floor in the series is the lack of evil looking things actually shown to you.

Paranormal activity 2 (8.50/10)

Released in 2010, Film 2 is both a prequel and sequel to the first film. Some of it occurs before and after the first. It features an entire family, focusing far more on the exterior of their home.
This adds more variety in the camera shots available. The greater number of individuals, result in greater fear factor. Since more people get affected and distressed by events, this enhances that horror element. This film also focuses on an entire family, rather than just a couple. Vulnerable individuals such as the young child “Hunter”, make evil all the more shocking here.

Again like the original, this movie doesn’t show the evil entity affecting the family, which is a shame. The “moving into a new house and filming on camera concept”, is used for this film aswell as the original. It comes under the “found footage”, sub-genre of horror.
Whilst films 1 and 2 are both a good watch, due to the outside and inside setting, and character diversity here, the fear factor is enhanced in this second instalment. It also affects more people in many different ways. Disappointingly though, Film 2 opening lacks any reference to horror. Film 4, adds in Halloween and violence early on, to improve on this.

The series is good, as it acts as a reality horror. Portraying normal life, and horrors’ affect on it; Not just focusing on the horror itself, but how people are affected by it. This believability is what the producer “Oren Peli”, was going for. He achieved it well in this series.

Paranormal activity 1 and 2 Conclusion

Out of the first 2 movies, the prequel, “Film 2”, appears to have it by a whisker. You don’t have to watch these films in order, as the plot lends well to standalone films. I do recommend you watch Films 1 and 2 though. For the overall summary (1-4), see below

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 Paranormal activity 3 (4.00/10)
Film 3 is set predominantly in a quaint small cottage akin to a “place NOT in the sun”. Or for that matter, any other unremarkable house buying program, focused on travelling somewhere new.

In fact, unremarkable seems a remarkably appropriate adjective to use here, since the vast majority of this movie was exactly that. For the first 40 minutes you could’ve been watching any reality TV show, with hardly any action to speak of.
The concept, whilst poorly executed, was similar to the previous films. It eventually featured evil entities clearly visible, creepy houses, disappearances into dark hiding places, and some drama/fear factor. This was reserved till just minutes before the end though.

The setting variety was clearly restricted here, with a far smaller house for the bulk of the film, than in the other movies 1-3, especially the second.

This metaphorically paralleled the size of my enjoyment of the third film. The second was far better.

Film 3 Summary
I wouldn’t recommend a view of this third instalment at all.
Since it is a prequel to the 1st and second, with the 4th set directly after the second, it would be entirely reasonable to miss this out.

Paranormal activity 4 (8.75/10)

Firstly, you will need to watch the second movie before this, since it recaps the ending of the second, and has continuity from the second in it’s storyline; Film 4 is set directly after Film 2.

I have to say, the movie concept shines here. It features enough action from the outset, to almost excuse the sparse paranormal events early on. There is far more going on from the word go than in Film 3.
This includes themes of violence and Halloween, (not the paranormal though). Film 2 by contrast, lacks horror themes entirely, during opening scenes.
The filming reveals enough unusual activity to keep you entertained here.
The action isn’t just on random objects here either. It plays on the idea of the objects being possessed, that have been recently touched by the residents, adding something different.

The unexpected is a key feature of any good horror, here it acts at intervals between calmer runs of normal life. This maintains regular tension, yet keeps the lives of the characters in the fray.

Horror environments are different here, they don’t just focus on tempting you into 1 room. By contrast, Film 4 shows multiple hotspots where events stem from. This creates mystery, helping raise tension more quickly.

Much like in the second, setting is varied far more here than the third film, featuring regular use of neighbours houses.
Characters are more diverse here than in the third episode too.

I must finally emphasise how great the ending is here … A true climax.

Due to these positives, I’m surprised that reviews for this movie are considerably harsher than for the others in the collection. I feel this movie is highly underrated, and my favourite so far.
Film 4 is rated the worst, at just 4.6 by IMDb. The far worse Film 3, gets rated 5.8. Film 3 is only second to the original, rated the highest on 6.3. The second film gets 5.6, coming third.

Still, not everything is perfect in this 4th installment. One issue with the film is just as you begin to get goosebumps, nothing happens to flick your hairs up and dilate your pupils. You get half measures of fear at times, which is sad.

Summary (Films 1-4)

Overall Film 4 is my favourite. It is far superior to the 3rd.
From best to worst for the first 4 films: Film 4 (8.75/10), Film 2 (8.50/10), Film 1 (8.00/10) and by a long way, the most dull instalment is Film 3 which I rate (4.00/10).

Anyway, I have to view the remaining movies, hope you had a great read of my first “Tetralogy analysis of a horror movie series”. Stand by for new posts. Watch this cyberspace …

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Related posts:

Paranormal activity 1 and 2 – The original analysis post
Available here:


Tags: horror, paranormal activity, paranormal activity 1, paranormal activity 2, paranormal, supernatural, demonic, possession, exorcism, evil, haunting, apparitions, manifestations, entities, video cameras, caught on camera, benandthegang, paranormal activity 3, paranormal activity 4, blogging


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