The Paranormal Activity Timeline Explained

With "Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin" finally available, now is the perfect time to revisit the entire "Paranormal Activity" franchise. With seven films total, the world of "Paranormal Activity" exists in a non-linear timeline, at least compared to the order in which the films were released. Watching the films in the release order is fun, but the series' storytelling is infinitely stronger when watched in order of the movies' timeline. Grab your shaky cams and brace for jump-scare impact, here is the "Paranormal Activity" timeline explained. (Mild spoilers ahead.)

Paranormal Activity 3

Despite being the third film released in the franchise, the series' timeline begins with "Paranormal Activity 3." The film focuses on the childhood of sisters Kristi and Katie, the latter of whom would later star in the titular "Paranormal Activity." "PA3" takes place in 1988, nearly two decades before the events of the next two films. The sisters live with their mother Julie and her videographer boyfriend, Dennis, when Kristi begins to see an imaginary friend named "Tobi," who turns out to be the devil that will terrorize the family throughout the rest of the franchise. It's one of the strongest entries in the series, especially once the true nature of Tobi is revealed, and that damn Teddy Ruxpin doll.

Paranormal Activity 2

Things get a little blurry with "Paranormal Activity 2," as the film aligns together with "Paranormal Activity" at the end of the film, but the second film starts a few months before the first film, and includes conversations about Katie and Micah's alleged supernatural encounters. "Paranormal Activity 2" centers on a now adult Kristi and husband Daniel whose home was just broken into and torn apart, however the only item stolen was a necklace Kristi received from her sister Katie, while the burglars avoided the nursery. Kristi is convinced that the house is haunted, and brings up the demon who messed with them as children. The hauntings escalate to a harrowing degree, and when "Paranormal Activity 2" and the OG film finally meet together, it's a tragic and terrifying reveal, only emphasized by knowing what is to come.

Paranormal Activity

In the first entry to the franchise, "Paranormal Activity" takes place after the events of part 2, centering on young couple Katie and Micah. After strange events begin to take place around their home, the duo put up video cameras to capture the unexplained phenomena. The hauntings increase in severity, ending with the possession of Katie and Micah being thrown into the camera. The ending of "Paranormal Activity 2" is an extension of what happens in the moments following the end of "Paranormal Activity," putting the franchise back in order.

Paranormal Activity 4-7

The events of "Paranormal Activity 4," "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones," and "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" all move forward in the order of release. "Paranormal Activity 4" is the first sequel to the existing storyline and while the story may seem unrelated to the previous events, the film's connection through the character "Robbie" expands the "PA" mythos, and pushes the Kristi and Katie legacy forward.

"Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" is a spin-off (and arguably the scariest of the bunch), taking place in a Latine village and centered on a family completely unrelated to the Kristi/Katie. The supernatural occurrences are related to a group of witches known as The Midwives who have been brainwashing women to give up their firstborn sons to create an army of possessed young men. This storyline, however, directly correlates to the events of "Paranormal Activity 3" and in the film's final moments, brings the film full circle and directly back into "Paranormal Activity."

In what was intended to be the final film in the franchise, "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" was presented in 3D, and ties up any loose ends from the previous installments. Tobi, The Midwives, Kristi/Katie, and characters from the entire franchise all appear or are referred to in this Christmas horror flick. The film does mark the end of the original storyline, with "Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin" serving as an unrelated reboot of the series.