Welcome to Freaky Friday, our ongoing series that highlights our extensive, awesome collection of free horror movies on Tubi TV. Whether you like blockbuster sequels, moody foreign films, or gore-filled comedies, we’ve got the film for your tastes. This week, we’re sharing our ranking of all six Paranormal Activity films.
When Paranormal Activity opened in 2009, its found footage approach to the haunted house genre shocked and terrified audiences. It scared up $108 million at the US box office, which is particularly impressive given its $15,000 budget. The initial film’s success led to five more movies in the franchise, and fans debate which ones are the best–and the scariest. Here’s our ranking of the Paranormal Activity films, counting down to the best one.
6. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)
This entry (supposedly the final one in the series) marks the first time that audiences could actually “see” the spirits, thanks to the special camera a family buys to see what is terrorizing their daughter. Ghost Dimension isn’t nearly as scary as its predecessors, but at least it wraps up the franchise.
Catfish directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman helm this fourth film in the series after taking over the reins for Paranormal Activity 3. This time, a new family begins to be haunted, but are their new neighbors to blame? (Yes.) Die-hard fans will still be in for the chills, but others won’t find this movie as compelling as the earlier ones.
4. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
More of a spin-off than a true sequel, The Marked Ones changed up the films’ setting and the spirits victims. This time, Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) is the evil entity’s target, but he’s the one with the power to potentially save himself. The fresh elements help rejuvenate the series, but it’s still a step down from the first half of the franchise.
This films rewinds (har har) the action to a few week’s before the events of Paranormal Activity. We get to see the beginnings of what was terrorizing Katie (Katie Featherston) and her sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden) following the birth of Kristi’s son Hunter. It may feel a bit repetitive of the first film’s terrors, but it all still works. So many good jump scares.
The first–and superior–film in the series directed by Joost and Schulman, Paranormal Activity 3 brings us back to the childhood of Katie and Kristi. The scares here are super effective, making us feel validated for every time we were scared of the dark as children.
Is it lazy to pick the original as the best? Yes. Is it still correct? Yes. The first film made great use of the found footage approach and is genuinely one of the scariest movies of this century. The story of Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie is creepy, but it’s all the more terrifying because the setting (and the footage) feels so familiar to real life. Directors Oren Pelli has a great sense of pace, knowing just when to ratchet up the tension and when to bring it–and the audience’s heart rate–down a notch, just to spike it again.
For more great horror coverage, check out our friends at Dread Central: