When reviewing Paranormal Activity 4 one of my major complaints about the latest addition to the franchise—beyond it being frightfully dull—was the amount of plot holes that led to a string of unanswered questions. With Paramount already planning on Paranormal Activity 5 and set to unveil a Spanish-language spin-off next spring, I began to wonder where the franchise will go from 4, and where it needs to go to get back on track. Obviously, this discussion will focus on specifics of Paranormal Activity 4, so MAJOR SPOILERS lie ahead.

The Spanish-language spin-off
Since it's coming sooner, let's begin with the unnamed Spanish spin-off. We know from early reports the film directed by Paranormal Activity 2-4 scribe Christopher Landon will focus on the same demon and will star unknown Latino talent. The after credits sequence of Paranormal Activity 4 gave audiences a teaser of this film with a brief 30-second clip. Carrying a handheld camera, an unseen but young-sounding male enters a bodega-looking shop, where various religious items (votive candles, crucifixes, porcelain saint figures) line the shelves. He focuses on a doorway where some sort of altar is set up and says, "Oooooh." An unseen friend seems to urge him to leave, and as they run out they stumble into a middle-aged woman dressed all in black who says something that Screen Crush translated to "This is only the beginning.” From here they bolt out of the shop and the clip ends.

On it's own, it left the audience I was with scratching their heads, but if you consider the overarching story the franchise has established, it seems clear that the coven that first appeared in 3 and is seen in the finale of 4 extends far beyond California and Nevada.

Personally, I find the coven (or cult or whatever) to be one of the least interesting elements of the Paranormal Activity franchise, especially since it's so vaguely realized. Apparently Katie and Kristi's grandma is a part of it, and this is what ties the sisters to the demon Toby. However, it's unclear what these women get out of their devotion—other than the horrific murder of their loved ones. Since Landon seems to have been integral to the introduction of this group, I expect the spin-off will explore them more, but the clip seems to add an intriguing element of Catholicism to the equation. As that's a major influence in many Spanish-speaking cultures, it's a smart move on Paramount's part. Catholicism also has solid roots in horror, most memorably in the possession classic The Exorcist, so could add some enticing new iconography to the story.

The spin-off could be fresh start of sorts, allowing Landon to take the franchise back to its gritty roots. The sure-to-be doomed protagonists of this pic might think the coven is the problem, and will be surprised by Toby's emergence. This could be an interesting device that would coat the whole narrative with a thick sense of dread as the audience would know more than the characters, waiting for them to realize too late what dark forces they are messing with. That could be interesting.

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