Katie is my favorite character of the Paranormal Activity
franchise. For a while I had a default icon that was called "because she looks like Katie." She was the reasonable one (compared to her boyfriend Micah) in PA1
, with a delicious darkward turn as she becomes possessed and kills Micah, as if telling him in the most ferocious terms, "see, this is what happens when you don't listen to me, dumbass." PA2
reveals that she became possessed because her brother-in-law Dan "sicced" the demon on her - it was to save his wife and son, but still - and Dan gets his comeuppance and "Katie" gets "her" revenge when she comes to their big fancy house, demon-possessed, to kill Dan and Kristi (his wife/her sister) and take Hunter (the infant son). In PA3
, Katie is a child who gets dragged (literally) into Kristi's bad-idea-of-the-year "friendship" with the demon - she and Kristi both end up at least somewhat possessed and in the care of their evil witch grandmother Lois*.
I really love PA1
, enjoy PA2
mostly for the big "Fuck U" it allows Katie to give, and am not such a fan of PA3
. I think this is because I didn't like the story that the creators (who changed from movie to movie) eventually laid out to explain what happened in PA1
. Witchcraft - especially of the matriarchal "coven" variety - in horror always sets off an alarm in my head: "this is a women-are-evil story." That's accentuated in the Paranormal Activity
franchise by the special importance given to the firstborn son, who everyone will go to extreme lengths to protect and who is apparently Blue Moon rare (girls in this family are basically throw-aways, especially if they can't be broodmares). By contrast, Katie is sacrificed by her brother-in-law because she's nothing to him - she is an expendable, mother to no one. Dan's teenaged daughter from a previous relationship, Ali, is the only one who says "hey, this isn't fair to Katie," and Ali is also safely tucked away on a field trip during Katie's rampage. And while I liked the potential that Paranormal Activity
had to be Katie's Good Girl Gone Bad (kind of Laura Palmer in reverse) story - even if witchcraft and a special son had to be involved - PA2
and especially PA3
show that there's nothing unique about Katie. The same thing happens to her sister. They get possessed and go bad because they're women (and I will note that the possession scenes always read very "rape-y" to me), the end.
There's a perspective shift too. In PA1
, Katie and Micah are both leads, and you're in each of their headspaces; because the "paranormal activity" revolves around Katie and she's an adult, she might be more the main character than Micah. PA2
is very decentralized - it's also very shallow in the sense that it's in no one's head in particular, and all the characters are ciphers. In PA3
, the boyfriend of Katie and Kristi's mother, Dennis, is the lead. Katie and Kristi are children and not especially emotive ones, and their mother Julie is a non-entity. The next closest thing to a character in PA3
is Dennis's male videography buddy. It's interesting that in PA3
Katie and Kristi are basically there to be "creepy little girls" with incomprehensibly creepy behavior - "little girls are creepy," as my roommate says - whereas there's nothing creepy about Hunter, the baby boy in PA2
, and the audience is simply meant to feel protective of him ("that poor baby boy," etc.). PA1
sets itself apart from its sequels because we actually get to be in the headspace of the eventual-possessee, to see her as a three-dimensional human being instead of just a "creepy little girl" or a blank mother-type placeholder (in Kristi's case - who is Kristi? God knows!).
Men are do-ers in the Paranormal Activity
franchise. Micah is dense and foolish, but he is the macho take-charge investigator - and this trait of his is sort of mocked in PA1
as Micah bombastically insists that "no one comes into my house
and fucks with my girlfriend
" and Katie's just like, "you don't have power here" (his defensive reply is something along the lines of "don't tell me I have no power"). In PA2
, Ali is the investigator, but she's not an actor, and she apparently wields zero influence over any other character, making her relevant only as an info-dumper. Dan, the brother-in-law, is the only actor, and shows piss-poor decision-making - firing the maid for saging the house, ignoring video footage that he himself arranged, and ultimately transferring the demon to Katie. Dan is actually absent during most of the movie (when the women of the house are being afflicted with paranormal activity), and it falls on him to make up for his failure to be the responsible man of the house by saving Kristi and Hunter and sacrificing Katie to the darkness. Dennis, Katie and Kristi's would-be-dad, is neither a dolt nor an asshole, and is more of a protector for Katie and Kristi than their own mother. He's heroic and self-sacrificing, a sensible investigator, and the good-guy foil to the human villain, the evil grandmother (there are no human villains in PA1
, and I think this does change the dynamic of a horror story - just ask Stephen King). And of course then there's the biggest do-er of them all: the demon. With all the marriage talk in PA3
, the demon is definitely male. But whereas the human men of Paranormal Activity
all (arguably) mean well as they try to fix this situation that their women thrust them into, the human women are either corruptible to the extreme or just irrelevant, and in all cases unable to even try to protect themselves or their loved ones. Their bodies are the battlefield for the war/pissing contest between the human men and the male demon.
The demon always wins, and it's through the demon that the human men are killed by the women in their lives. The visual effect is different, though: on screen, it's psycho bitches on the loose (with the only really affecting death, at least for me, being Micah's at the hands of "Katie"). It's too bad that Katie's actions at the end of PA2
probably aren't Katie's at all. I would have preferred her to be taking revenge on Dan and Kristi - if only subconsciously, if only with the last smidgen of Katie that still existed within the bloody Katie-shell - but it was probably just the demon being demonic en route to obtaining that precious little boy. "Jennifer's Body" - Hole"Arsenal" - Kidneythieves"Climbing Up The Walls (Radiohead cover)" - Sarah Slean"Behind Blue Eyes (The Who cover)" - Sheryl Crow
*: Fun fact - Lois is my maternal grandmother's name! This is why one of my middle names is Louise. Because my mother didn't like the sound of "Nadia Lois." WITCH!