Paranormal Activity 5
With the Spanish spin-off seemingly carrying the torch of the coven plotline, Paranormal Activity 5 could attempt to fill in the missing years between 2 and 4 and answer some of the last film's most frustrating questions in the process. When and why did Katie give Hunter up? Who the hell is Robbie? The beauty of 3 was that it fleshed out the past alluded to in 1 and 2, where the girls recalled something that haunted them throughout their childhood. The filmmakers planted us in their past, showing us where all began, giving the demon a name and—unfortunately—introducing the coven. It enriched the world of the films, where 4 added nothing concrete and even seemed to ignore the rules it introduced, leading up to the confusing ending.

We're told that the final step of demon possession requires the subject to kill a virgin, which set us up in 4 to believe that Wyatt/Hunter would need to kill his sister, Alex. But the final moments of the film show Katie killing Alex, so where does this leave the plot? Frankly, I found Toby much scarier when he was solely a disembodied beast of destruction, rather than that and a creepy kid, and a killer Katie and possibly a tiny poltergeist? But now that all this has been set up, will Paramount dare abandon it? Opening at $30 million, the $3 million budgeted Paranormal Activity 4 is undoubtedly a success, even though it had the weakest opening of any of the sequels. So even though this last one got a Cinemascore of C and was panned by critics across the board, will Paramount be interested in changing it up—or back?

Ultimately, whether the filmmakers choose to push on with coven plots, move back into Katie's shady past, or find a new happy home to terrorize with Toby, I think there's one thing they absolutely must do: bring back the slow-burn scares! I vividly remember watching the first three films, and with the first and the third especially, the tension that strung out as weird noises built up to inexplicably moving objects to terrifying late night attacks. I was bound up into a ball with my fists to my mouth, wanting to scream but unable to as the tension wound tighter and tighter. This is what made the finales—which in of themselves are sort of lame—so impactful. It was like letting go of a tightly stretched rubber band that when finally released zings so fast and hard it hits you right in the face. So wherever the chronology of this franchise leaps to next, let's ditch the silly false alarm jump scares and return to brewing atmosphere and gut-churning suspense as that's what made these movies such a standout in the first place.

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