How Far Can the Paranormal Activity Franchise Go?

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Having successfully averted the Blair Witch 2 curse, Peli and Paramount putPA3 in the hands of directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who have a knack for messing with our heads. Known in the indie-film world for their Sundance 2010 documentary hit Catfish, which chronicled Schulman’s brother Nev’s relationship with a girl via Facebook only to find that the girl isn’t who she says she is, Joost and Schulman have fielded question after question, including in these pages, about whether their film was real or just a clever ruse. “We’ve never been ambiguous about Catfish being a real documentary—it is,” says Schulman while taking a break from shooting PA3 last month. “I think Paramount was disappointed to hear us tell them that even behind closed doors.” Regardless (or because of this), Peli and Blum believe these guys have the credentials to build on the Paranormal mythology.

Paranormal Activity 3 focuses on Katie and Kristi when they were children and shows the origin of the demon that will follow them for the rest of their lives. And in a new wrinkle, the story is set in 1988—the first real period Paranormal—and everything from the music on the radio, to the clothes, to the giant camcorders the characters shoot with is authentic to the era.

Like Williams, Joost and Schulman have embraced the Paranormal rules and found the process rewarding. “You can just make up scenes [that] day, try the same scene 10 different ways, and basically the best idea or the best scare wins,” Joost says. “We’ve shot enough footage for five features, and what ends up in the film is the best stuff.”

Although Peli is keeping mum on what’s next, if anything, for Paranormal, many involved with the films say it’s hard not to think there are more in the pipeline. Creating scenarios on how the story can move forward is what has made the films successful so far, Williams says. “It was always on our minds,” he admits. “It’s what you would do at lunch: talk about what could happen in the next movie.”

Says Blum: “I think it’s impossible to think about the next movie without thinking about the movie after that and the movie after that. We’re thinking about that all the time.”

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