The screening of “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” on Thursday was bittersweet, as franchise creator Oren Peli received the Trailblazer Award from Screamfest, which premiered the original film back in 2007.
“I never thought beyond the first one,” remembered Peli. “Even when the studio said that they were going to do the second one, I thought, ‘How are you going to do it?’ It’s not really designed to be a franchise.”
The TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood was filled with fans who were excited to see the sixth and final installment of the supernatural franchise that is well-known for its found-footage format — which stars Chris J. Murray and Brit Shaw.
“‘The Blair Witch Project’ was a direct inspiration and gave me the confidence,” said Peli. “I thought, ‘They did it, maybe I can do it, too.'”
“Paranormal Activity” surpassed “The Blair Witch Project” — which never made it past a sequel — in terms of longevity, continuing its story with a new film out nearly annually. Producer Christopher Landon told Variety that his key to making a post-millennium horror franchise was simply sticking to what worked the first time.
“It’s always been an evolution of technology and point of view,” he shared. “We concentrated on writing characters and making them believable and relatable.”
Although “Paranormal Activity” still has box office success eight years after its arrival, director Gregory Plotkin said that this was the right time for the franchise to come to a close.
“It may sound a little silly for a horror franchise to have a little integrity, but we just wanted to complete this arc,” said Plotkin. “We would be beating a dead horse to make it something it wasn’t.”
“Paranormal Activity” has since been picked up as a virtual reality game, which was also released on Thursday at select AMC theaters across the country.
After the screening, Peli held on to his new award that was shaped as a golden skull. It appeared in all of his photos that he took with friends and Screamfest fans in the theater lobby.