PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 opened on Friday and drew record numbers for an R rated horror movie, and was received well amongst fans of the first film. Needless to say with over $40 million grossed at the box office in its first weekend of release and a budget under $3 million, and more to come with Halloween coming up this weekend (even though Saw 3D opens on Friday), Paramount is seriously considering a third installment to the found footage chillers. So that leaves fans of the films wondering what exactly they might have in mind to continue the story. I have had a few different discussions with friends and family over the possibility of a third film with only one that seemingly made sense due to the direction of the sequel. This will serve as a look into the first two films, before I put in my two cents on a possible direction for the third. I will discuss elements to the endings of both the first and second film, so expect some HEAVY spoilers to follow, so do yourself a favor and head out to the theaters this week and this weekend before Halloween to check it out before you read on for the spoiler talk.
The first film, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, dealt exclusively with a young couple, Katie and Micah as they struggled to deal with strange events happening in their home while they slept. Things got worse when Micah played around with a Ouija board and taunted the demon that was tormenting them. Katie slowly began being controlled by the demon and eventually the events culminate when she awakes in the middle of the night and walks slowly downstairs and screams at the top of her lungs waking up Micah who runs down to try and help her; there’s a short scuffle and the screaming of both Micah and Katie stop. Shortly after you hear heavy footsteps on the steps followed by a prolonged silence before Katie hurls Micah’s lifeless body at the stationary camera Micah had been using to record the events going on. The ending then shows that Katie’s whereabouts remained unknown.
The sequel, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2, follows a family consisting of Kristi, Dan (I think) and Ali (Dan’s daughter from a previous marriage), welcoming home Kristi and Dan’s newborn, Hunter. They return home one day to find their house completely torn apart, but with nothing actually stolen from the residence. Dan then hires a crew to install a series of security cameras in order to capture any perpetrator in the act, as well as a handheld camera they use to capture their day to day conversations. We soon learn that Kristi is the sister of Katie (from the first film) and the events we are watching take place 60 days before the events that lead to Micah’s death. Kristi and Katie discuss events from their past involving weird events from when they were kids and that Kristi should just try to ignore what is happening because she believes the force feeds off of fear. Ali does the unthinkable one night and fools around with a Ouija board with her boyfriend, in which, after an immature joke by her boyfriend, the demon communicates to them that what he is after is Hunter, the family’s newborn. Ali researches that there is a form of demon that stalks the members of a family who may have bargained for personal gain or financial wealth and will do so until it collects the first newborn male born after the bargain. After a frightening attack on Kristi, Dan and Ali find that it is possible to transfer the demon to someone else but it has to be a blood relative, leading him to transfer their misfortune to Katie using a crucifix and a photo that he burns (which is a callback to a picture found by Micah in their attic in the first film). It all seems to go as planned, but Ali neglected mention that the demon the demon they are dealing with explicitly spelled out its intentions for Hunter and could have easily been evident had they looked at previous camera footage. The film cuts to a new timeline that takes place AFTER the events of the first film and Micah’s murder. Dan is relaxing on the couch and Kati is standing in blood covered clothes behind him. Katie sneaks up behind him and easily snaps Dan’s neck killing him and starts walking slowly toward the stairs. Kristi is upstairs holding Hunter and notices Kati walking quickly towards her before Katie violently attacks Kristi knocking her against the camera, supposedly killing her. Kati then bends down and picks up Hunter and walks out of the room. The last frame explains that Ali was out of town on a trip and that Katie and Hunter’s whereabouts remain unknown.
It was actually pretty disappointing that the sequel took the same climax rout as the first. Many people complained about the Hollywood-like ending and with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2, its likely many of the same complaints are being voiced all over the internet. In my review [Paranormal Activity 2 Review] I stated that I felt this sequel was actually scarier and improved in several ways to the first film. It’s one of those rare sequels that actually compliments its predecessor extremely well and makes the events in that first film scarier and even tragic, knowing that Katie’s own family were to blame for the horror they went through, and makes Dan, from the sequel, almost as unlikeable as the demon terrorizing them. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 is actually very funny as well; Dan is the source of many of the laughs, as he is constantly sending out one liners and pulling pranks on his family that’s on edge. The horror that comes from the second film is even more terrifying because of the nature of what’s at stake here in the sequel. The addition of an innocent toddler makes things very intense, as well as an extremely sensitive German Sheppard looking to protect the family. Both films resort to jump scares, but they are the kind that actually makes the quiet moments all the more terrifying. They are done in such a way that make the film unpredictable and predictable at the same time, meaning that you know something is going to happen, but you have no idea when or where. A perfect example lies in a simple moment where Kristi sits down in the kitchen to read the paper and all of a sudden all the cupboards and drawers fly open, obviously sending Kristi into a very frightened state of mind, but also catching the audience off guard because it’s far too quiet and you know a jolt is coming but you don’t know where on screen to look. The first film started the trend and the sequel just sends it up a notch, while also doubling the quiet moments and scenes were literally nothing is happening. As movie watchers we know it’s not normal to have so little happening on screen, but to me that is the brilliance of a film like this, using out preconceptions of film against us and putting us on edge.
So here we are now, with Paramount almost assuredly gearing up for a third film and fans will wait patiently (and impatiently) for plot details to find their way online. It’s likely that when the film goes into production it will see a release date around this time next year. As I mentioned before, I’ve had several discussions with other people about where they could possibly go from here, one of which making the most sense to me. I had several other vague ideas, but none of them seemed quite as plausible, but I will outline a couple of them.
The idea that seemed to make the most sense to me, due to how the second film unfolded, was that the third film would go back even farther and chronicle the events that Katie and Kristi experienced when they were younger and possibly uncovering what caused their family to be burdened by the demon in the first place. It is possible to also expand on the events and fast forward to the current timeline with Katie possibly coming to after being possessed by the demon realizing what has happened and hiding out somehow, still being tormented viciously by the demon. However, now that it is in possession of Hunter you could argue that it is possible the demon has already claimed Hunter’s soul, but that just seems too sinister to handle for today’s sensitive American audiences. It could also follow Ali as she looks into the whereabouts of her aunt Katie and her stepbrother Hunter, but would there be enough substance and scares to sustain the tone of a PARANORMAL ACTIVITY film.
One of the goofier ideas that crossed my mind, that I don’t think is even a legitimate plot to consider, is that PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3, shows the arrest of Katie and then follows security footage of the crazy things that go on in a women’s prison with a demon on the loose to torment several cells worth of incarcerated women. Of course this idea seems to have the most potential for unintentional laughs and loads of irrational women scared to death and screaming simultaneously, which could really spell death for the series.
At this point it seems most likely the events will somehow involve Katie, Hunter and Ali. It does still remain a possibility that it could show the early years of paranormal events happening to Kristi and Katie, but only time will tell. It’s likely that even when the film gets greenlit and goes into production that the plot details will remain under wraps well up until the time of release and even then it could still contain some unknown details kept secret, much like Katie and Micah’s appearances in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2. Either way, with as much as I loved both the first two films, regardless of the final product I will most likely be present and accounted for when PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 hits theaters.