If you like getting spooked by things that go bump in the night, or you simply have a love for found footage movies, then chances are you have come across the Paranormal Activity films. The film series – about spooks, demonic possession, camera footage, and witches – has a strong cult following and has developed into an intriguing collection of movies.

But if you are new to the Paranormal Activity film series, where do you start? Also, how many Paranormal Activity movies are there and in what order do you watch them?

All these answers are revealed below. So, let’s take a trip to the other side and find out what lurks in the shadows and on the screen.

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Production order

Image: ©Paramount Pictures

The first Paranormal Activity movie was released in 2007 and centred around a young couple called Micah and Katie. The couple experience strange happenings in their home, so Micah decides to set up a camera to record what is taking place.

Over the course of multiple nights, strange phenomena occurs, leading the couple to believe their house is haunted. The camera captures the events of each day, with the supernatural situation escalating each evening.

Paranormal Activity grabbed the attention of audiences world wide and grossed more than $193 million from a budget of just $15,000. As such, a sequel was put into production to further the story.

Paranormal Activity 2 arrived in 2010 and was also a financial hit, paving the way for Paranormal Activity 3 in 2011 and Paranormal Activity 4 in 2012. From this point on, the series dropped the numbers from its title for 2014’s Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and 2015’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.

As the series has developed it has created a world around characters that include Katie, Micah, Kristi, Hunter, Grandma Lois and Tobi. If you wish to watch the Paranormal Activity movies in production order, the list is as follows:

  • Paranormal Activity (2007)
  • Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
  • Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
  • Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
  • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
  • Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)

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The anomaly

Outside of the core series of films, Paranormal Activity has birthed a spin-off (of sorts). The movie is not part of the ongoing series and is instead a one-off continuation of the original movie.

The unofficial film – Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night – was released in 2010 in Japan, as a sequel to 2007’s Paranormal Activity. The film follows a new set of characters who experience strange happenings.

Tokyo Night was not followed by any further sequels and is not referenced in the main series. As such, it exists as an anomaly to the series.

Should you wish to watch the spin-off, then the order would be as follows:

  • Paranormal Activity (2007)
  • Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night (2010)

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The timeline order

Image: ©Paramount Pictures

OK, so that’s production order and the anomaly covered, but is that everything?

Nope.

When developing the Paranormal Activity world, the filmmakers decided to flesh out the story by jumping back and forth across the timeline. Brief comments in one film could form the basis for the next, even if the situation took place in the past.

So, while Paranormal Activity was the first film in the series to be released, it isn’t the first film in the PA timeline. In fact, it’s not even the second!

I’ll list the films in timeline order in a moment, but before I get to that, here is when the events of each film take place:

  • Paranormal Activity – The events of the film take place during September 2006.
  • Paranormal Activity 2 – The majority of the film’s events take place throughout August 2006 (just prior to the events of Paranormal Activity), but the film also features scenes set during October 2006 (just after Paranormal Activity).
  • Paranormal Activity 3 The majority of the film’s events take place during September 1988. The film also includes scenes set in 2005 and 2006.
  • Paranormal Activity 4 The events of the movie take place between October and November 2011.
  • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones The events of the movie take place during June 2012. The film largely sidesteps the ongoing storyline to further expand the PA world, but does include a scene set during 2006.
  • Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension The majority of the events of The Ghost Dimension take place during 2013, however, it also includes links back to 1988.

Now, putting the movies into chronological order as per the Paranormal Activity timeline, the films fall in this order:

  • Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
  • Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
  • Paranormal Activity (2007)
  • Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
  • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
  • Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)

If you wish to watch the movies in order of their timeline, then use the above list as a guide.

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So, what is truly the best order to watch the Paranormal Activity movies?

It’s entirely up to you, but I would always go for production order.

The films do weave around the timeline quite a bit, but if you are watching them back -to-back then it is easy to keep track of what is going on. Plus, a number of films reference each other, so it can be quite helpful to have seen the entries in the order they were released.

Happy viewing!

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