Part of the mystique of the found-footage genre is not all information can be revealed. The audience is privy to only the information which happened to be captured on someone’s home video.
The problem with that method is it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It isn’t an all-knowing audience experience as some horror films are. Instead the audience is only exposed to what the characters are exposed to. This can lead to a ton of uncertainties that need to be sorted out, and the Paranormal Activity films are no exception.
In an attempt to help clarify the films, we’ve compiled this guide to the Paranormal Activity demon.
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What We Know
A deal was made with the demon for the family’s first born son
Although we don’t know for sure who made the deal, somewhere in the not too distant past, one of the family members was willing to gain wealth and power in exchange for the soul of their first born son. Julie’s mom Lois is fully aware of this deal, and tries to encourage Julie to have kids until she has a son. The fact Lois knows about the deal would lead to beliefs that either she, or her mother was the one to make the deal, but there are also no signs of great wealth or power in Lois’ possession.
Hunter is the first male born into the family since the 1930s, which makes him the male heir that the demon will receive his payment from. In PA2 the demon possesses Kristi in order to take Hunter. Martine informs Dan that it is impossible to exorcise the demon completely, but it can be passed to another family member. Dan then does the ritual to pass the demon to Katie, but that doesn’t stop Hunter from being taken.
This deal was for the first-born son’s life or soul, one of the two. The demon didn’t need to make a deal to possess the body, as it has no trouble possessing anyone throughout the films, but for some reason it needed the deal to actually take the soul or life.
The circle inside a triangle is related to the demon
This mysterious symbol is extremely prevalent in PA3 . We get it in Lois’ house, on the lite-brite in the tiny closet. The symbol comes back again in the fourth film on Wyatt’s back.
Many believe this symbol dates all the way back to King Solomon and is referred to as the Magical Triangle. Legend holds that the great king was also a prophet and a wizard who didn’t just deal with good spirits.
The symbol was originally supposed to be made on the ground, and that’s the only place in which Solomon was able to properly control the evil that he conjured. Many would believe it to be a place of protection, as circles have frequently been used throughout demonic lore as a safe haven, but this circle provided Solomon with power and control, not safety.
It’s no great stretch to assume the demon was originally summoned through some sort of ritual involving the Magical Triangle, but the films do fail to explain why it continually pops up in random locations.
The demon’s name is Toby
In PA3 Kristi refers to the spirit as Toby, and again in PA4 the spirit is referred to as Toby. So it’s clear that Toby isn’t just a name that Kristi made up, and whatever this spirit is tells the kids his name is Toby.
The name Toby has no direct connection to common demonic lore or to any demons referenced in the Bible, so likely it’s just a name that the writers picked. It does seem to bit an odd name for a demon, so there is the possibility that Kristi did make up that name, and the demon liked it enough to keep it.
It doesn’t like to be taunted or mocked
Many times in the films we find Toby reacting to the tauntings of one of the characters. The most notable of this behavior is in PA3 when Katie mocks Kristi and the demon before entering the crawl space. One she’s inside, the door slams shut and Toby attacks her.
Toby also goes after the babysitter when she dons a sheet in imitation of a ghost. The same sheet hovers behind her, with some form of spirit beneath, and then when she attempts to put the sheet back, Toby blows on her and pushes her away.
It frequently communicates with children
It’s long been accepted in paranormal films that children are the ones who have the closest connection to the spiritual world. This is shown especially strongly in the 3rd and 4th films, as we have kids talking to the spirit in each.
When dealing with only the children the demon seems friendly, not at all the terrifying entity that it is when the adults come into play. Kristi has an extremely close bond with the demon, speaking to Toby nearly every night, and playing with him during the day.
It leaves bird-like tracks
The most telling information we get in the first film is a very tiny detail about the demon: the appearance of its tracks.
Micah comes up with the idea of laying powder on the ground to trace the movement of the demon. The plan works, as the demon leaves behind tracks, but these tracks aren’t anything that a human would leave. They’re birdlike three-toed tracks, yet are much larger than the average bird.
The demon has now received its payment
Although it isn’t actually shown, at the end of PA4, we can assume that the demon receives Hunter as his payment,when Hunter is taken to Katie’s house and the coven of witches convenes on Alex to complete the sacrifice.
The fact that the demon now has Hunter should complete the original deal that was made, if the deal was simply the first born-male for the wealth and power.
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What We Still Don’t Know
Why are there so many different forms of the demon?
In the first movie, we see that the demon has a birdlike form, leaving tracks that almost look like the kind a giant chicken would leave. In the third film, we see a shadowy female figure through Lois’ window, yet also learn that the demon is male, tall and is “old like grandma.” Yet, when the sheet stands behind the babysitter, it’s no more than 4 feet tall. In the fourth film, we see a figure that looks like a little boy following Wyatt in the night. Yet when Wyatt speaks to Toby he is clearly looking up at someone at least twice his height.
So is this one demon or is it multiple demon? If it’s one, why does it change forms so frequently? If it’s many, then why are there multiple demons when the deal was only made with one? And what controls when which demon appears? And why have we not seen them together? That’s a glaring issue that the films have yet to address.
Why did the demon wait until Hunter was 6?
We never find out what was gained by waiting for Hunter to reach the age he is in PA4. We hear many times in the movie that he’s almost ready, and Ben’s demonology research confirms that the boy has to reach a certain age, but we still don’t know why it was at this time.
Hunter does begin to communicate with the demon at this age, so that could be why they waited, but we also see him acknowledge the demon as a baby, so he obviously isn’t just becoming aware of this demon in 2011. There must be some reason that it waited until this time, and it should be deeper than the fact that 6 is the devil’s number.
Why did Katie give up Hunter, just to have to get him back later on?
Was this simply put in the movie for the twist of Wyatt, not Robbie, being Hunter? Or was it actually necessary for Wyatt and the virgin (his sister Alex) to become close before the ritual could be completed?
The lack of explanation for how Wyatt ended up being adopted by the family is acceptable, but the why behind the adoption is a crucial piece of the puzzle that’s missing. It would have made much more sense for Katie to keep Hunter and raise him as her own, as opposed to bringing Robbie into the picture.
Why does the demon require the first born male?
It’s commonly accepted in demonic films that the first born male is a suitable sacrifice to demons, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be explained why. What does Toby get out of this first born male that he was willing to give away wealth and power? And why does he desire this male so much that he haunts generations of women until he gets it?
Is the coven seen in PA3 made up of the same witches who made the deal?
If they are the same witches, then there is something about the deal that kept them from aging, considering a deal made in the 30s would put the whole coven at least in their 70s, and that’s assuming that the deal was made when the women were in their 20s. Possibly part of the deal was to keep them from aging, but if that’s the case, then how is it logical that Lois is an acceptable age for a grandmother?
If it isn’t the initial witches, then why have they taken over the coven? It’s said that after the ritual, the girls don’t remember anything of the possession, but why would Katie and Kristi be released to live normal lives after whatever happened to them at the end of PA3, when the rest of the women in the family seem to join this coven?
What role does the Sigil of Baphomet play?
In the final scene of PA3, when Dennis runs to the room where the shadowy figure is, he sees the paintings have been taken off the wall, and behind them are symbols. The one that the focus is drawn to is the familiar circle within a triangle, but remember the other symbol?
That symbol is best known as the Sigil of Baphomet, and it has much deeper demonic roots than the Magical Triangle, but other than that stray shot, it’s nearly completely ignored.
The symbol is generally accepted as the foremost symbol of Satanism and the Church of Satan. The first known artwork of a similar symbol is found in the 1897 book La Clef de la Magie Noire. It now even graces the cover of some versions of the Satanic Bible.
The use of the symbol could simply be passed off as bringing in another demonic symbol to further show the coven’s dedication to Satanism, but that seems a bit shallow compared to how frequently the circle within the triangle is shown. The further meaning of this symbol should have been addressed by someone in the films.
How are Robbie and the demon connected?
A huge issue of PA4 is who Robbie was, and how he was able to interact with the demon. He was living with the possessed Katie, but how did he come to be there? Was he another child from the family?
The only certainty of Robbie is that he was able to interact with the Demon, and he knew much more about the Satanism than a boy his age should. He was the one who drew the Magical Triangle on Wyatt’s back to properly allow him to communicate with Toby. But how did he know to do this if he was just another kid who could see Toby?
He also knows that Alex is pretending when she acts like she can see Toby, but Kristi acted as if Dennis should be able to see Toby. Robbie obviously had much more knowledge about the demon than Kristi did.
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So now it’s time for the all-important question of whether or not a fifth movie should be made?
Although there are more than enough unanswered questions to fill one or two more films, with the demon receiving what it was owed, there really is nowhere for the films to go into the future.
The one potentially interesting way to handle another film would be to make another prequel. It would be extremely cool to have a film set when the deal with the demon was originally made, but this is where the found footage style becomes a problem. It simply isn’t plausible to have a found footage movie set in 1930.
Although audiences likely still have many unanswered questions about the series, they may have to settle for being content with the mystery behind the Paranormal Activity demon.
What are your thoughts on the demon and the questions surrounding it? Let us know in the comments below.Previous