Normally, horror-movie franchises decrease in quality over time. The first one is the best, the second one is okay, the third is barely tolerable and by the fourth you're thinking it's time to call it quits.
But the Paranormal Activity franchise is proving to be different. The original might still be the favorite, but after a weak follow-up, part three was pretty entertaining. And after a disappointing fourth installment, the new spin-off entry Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is getting mostly positive reviews.
Maybe this is just one of those series that alternates beween good and bad? We can't go with the "odd-numbered installments are the good ones" sort of ruling, though, because The Marked Ones is really like part 4.5. There's still an actual Paranormal Acitivity 5 out this fall.
It's already a confusing chronology as far as numbered franchises go, too. Paranormal Activity 2 is technically a prequel, albeit one that also overlaps with the first movie. Paranormal Activity 3 was even more of a prequel, going back about 20 years in time. But then Paranormal Activity 4 finally gave us the true aftermath of the original.
If the new movie is indeed better than the last, that's good news for those of us following along, even if we get a few bumps here and there. We can so far still depend on the series to scare us again and maybe keep the plot interesting, too.
As for which is truly the best, personally I favor Paranormal Activity 3 (also the most successful at the box office, worldwide). The original is a great setup with a number of very creepy and frightening moments, but it also feels like a cheaper, more amateur production. The third one is a rare worthwhile prequel that looks good as a nostalgic '80s period piece and packs in plenty of good scares, too.