Found-footage horror has always been pretty hit-or-miss: for every Blair Witch Project there’s a Last Exorcism. Most of the time, it’s the low-budget efforts that succeed in utilizing the style’s greatest strengths, so it’s not surprising that Paranormal Activity, made on a budget of $15,000, became a global phenomenon. The sequels are what they are, but the first movie is still chilling to this day, in part because of its two leads, who act in such a way that it’s easy to believe it’s all real.
Before every long-running horror franchise finally ends, they always return one last time to claim a final victim: their most loyal audience. It’s pretty clear Paranormal Activity — and maybe the entire found-footage horror subgenre — is out of gas, but here’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension anyway, ready to milk a few more bucks out of the last surviving souls who are still invested in its convoluted mythology, and complete the series’ transformation from elegant simplicity to desperate gimmickry, with the addition of 3D to the mix.
The first Paranormal Activity cost just $15,000. It went on to gross more than $107 million in the U.S. alone, making it one of the most profitable films of all time. That’s just one of the many facts packed into the latest episode of You Think You Know Movies, which heads deep into the ghost dimension for a look at the first Paranormal Activity.