For the first time in five years, in October2013 there was no new instalment in the Paranormal Activity saga released. Instead, we had spin-off 'sidequel' The Marked Ones this month, with the official Paranormal Activity 5 only due this autumn, after at least a year in development. With that screenplay finally cracked, however, the first details of its plot have emerged. They involve a young-ish family whose frightening experiences of things going bump in their new house will be captured in found footage. Who'da thunk it?
The family enduring the scares this time are Ryan, Emily, their daughter Leila, and Ryan's younger brother Mike. Another daughter has died a year previous to the film. That sounds significant. The location is Pala Alto, where the clan have just moved from New York, so that videogame designer Ryan can start his new (oddly specific) job at GTA developer Rockstar.
Emily, meanwhile, is an earth-mother type who does yoga, while Leila is described as a tomboyish combination of her big-kid dad and more mature mom. There's no explanation of why Uncle Mike lives with them, but he's "essentially a less fit, less funky" version of his brother.
Where Katie Featherston's "Katie" fits into all this - assuming she shows up at all - remains to be seen; ditto the surprising business from Paranormal Activity 4 regarding young Hunter. "It goes without saying," says the breakdown, paradoxically, "that the family quickly realise something is not okay in their new house".
"Four was a tricky one," said series writer/producer and The Marked Ones' director Christopher Landon recently. "There were a lot of balls in the air. It didn't come together as a whole. I think there are some fun moments and great scares and we got some stuff right, but where we really dropped the ball is we didn't advance the mythology and left the audience in a narrative wasteland. A big part of my job on The Marked Ones was to win people back and let them know we're going to keep pushing things forward."
The Marked Ones, it turns out, is not quite the standalone it appeared to be. "We want all the movies to be connected," Landon says. "[Part Five's director and long-term Paranormal series editor] Gregory Plotkin and I had discussions about it. The end of The Marked Ones ties into the fifth film. I think Gregory is going to take it in a very cool direction."
Paranormal Activity 5 is released, back in its usual Hallowe'en-ish slot, on October 24.