Starring Olivia Taylor Dudley, Chloe Csengery, Maria Olsen, Brit Shaw, Aiden Lovekamp, Jessica Tyler Brown, Ivy George, Chris J. Murray, Nathan Brewer, Michael Krawic
Directed by Gregory Plotkin
Here it is. The one you’ve been asking for. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean what you’re getting will be good or even what you wanted. The finale of the Paranormal Activity franchise is upon us, and this time you’ll be entering The Ghost Dimension in 3D, of course!
All in all Paranormal Activity has fared rather well as a franchise with the only real missteps being the fourth film and then choosing to release The Marked Ones as a Latino spin-off instead of just Paranormal Activity 5, which it certainly was. Still, as good as Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was, there’s no denying that franchise fatigue had set in. People had become too used to the subtle scares and slow build-up. Momentum slowed.
Contributing to the problem was the fact that with every movie, Paramount chose to raise more questions over actually giving us answers. With Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (a title that doesn’t even makes sense given we are not dealing with ghosts, but instead demons), the studio has promised:”All answers will be revealed.” Does this sixth film do that? Well… yes, and – unfortunately – mostly no.
We’re introduced to the Fleeges – father Ryan (Murray), mother Emily (Shaw), and their young daughter, Leila (Ivy George) – a brand new family who have just moved into their dream home. After finding a box containing some old VHS tapes and a peculiar looking camera, it’s not long before things start going bump in the night, and a nefarious plan – five films in the making – is revealed.
There’s just one nagging problem…
While Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension succeeds in being an okay spookhouse scarefest that is at times home to mile-a-minute frights and chills, it doesn’t succeed as a Paranormal Activity movie at all. Mostly due to a 900-pound gorilla of a problem that I shall not address due to its spoilerific nature. This problem ultimately leaves the audience blowing in the wind. It’s senseless and hurts the film as “the finale.”
Instead of being part of the franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension feels more like its own movie about Anonymous Family #4. Did we really need to go through that again? Wait until yet another family catches up to where the audience already is and has been? As goofy as Paranormal Activity 4 was, it at least added something to the lore of the series. Here, both it and The Marked Ones are completely ignored (other than a fleeting reference to a “Nevada family”), leaving us instead with a family riddled with lapses in logic that does not communicate. One where the parents seem totally okay with letting their daughter sleep in a bedroom with occult symbols scrawled all around her bed. One who can’t be bothered to watch any of the footage they’re recording and barely raise an eyebrow when a dark manifestation is captured on camera. Ryan and his brother, who happens to be visiting, painfully attempt to be natural and goofy with each… and fail miserably.
Even non-family members have character development issues, including a priest who goes from knowing “very little” to commando exorcist/demon exterminator with the thinnest of explanations given and some blonde chick (another houseguest) who disappears for long stretches randomly throughout the movie. One bright spot is young George, who shines as Toby’s newest “friend,” but the other cast members don’t fare so well.
That being said, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is without question the single most visually impressive of the franchise with some of the best timed jump-scares I’ve ever seen. The usage of 3D is brilliant and honestly the only way to watch this movie. Unfortunately, the script is ultimately brain dead and doesn’t complement director Gregory Plotkin’s talent or timing at all. The man is spot-on and cocksure in his direction, but in this case he needs a script that is equally as smart, and he just doesn’t have one. What he does have – and makes the most of – is a story that, unlike every other entry into the franchise, isn’t even remotely grounded in reality, which is a huge problem given that reality, as crazy as things have gotten over the years, was this series’ biggest strong point and basis of the frightening events. Here realism is relatively absent in favor of lots of loud “BOO” moments.
If this were called ANYTHING other than Paranormal Activity… a series that has become rooted in lore and mythology… I probably would have dug it more. It tries extremely hard to be jump out of your seat scary and wears its hokey “let’s scare people in the dark and have a great time doing it” heart proudly on its sleeve. In fact, it goes so far in the third act that it pulls out all the stops… but they’re all the wrong stops.
In the end… this is one of the few movies I can honestly say that I both kind of liked and vehemently disliked at the same time. The casual audience will likely eat up Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, but fans of the franchise will once again leave feeling empty and unfulfilled.