Film Review – Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
$20. That’s how much it costs to see Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension at Event Cinemas. Twenty dollars. Add the pseudo-luxury of viewing select portions of the film (no more than a cumulative 15 minutes) in 3D, and top the experience off with V-Max seating, and that total jumps to $27. For $27, you could buy a decent shirt from a decent clothing shop. You could feed an entire village of people in a third-world country. You could grab your favourite album on vinyl, a Lego kit to build with your nephew, or a solid gram of quality indica from that sketchy kid at Central station. But instead, go ahead and spend your hard-earned cash on a ticket to the sixth – and thankfully, final – Paranormal Activity film, because if nothing else, you’ll know what it’s like to taste blood in your mouth without being physically struck.
Bringing what was once an interesting and promising franchise to its shamefully bitter end, director Gregory Plotkin has ignored everything that made the first three movies great. Gone is the suspense, the tension, and the progressive, nail-biting anxiety. In its place lies a scattering of purely embarrassing jumpscares, gimmicky dialogue, and poorly thought out retreads of scenes and concepts done better in the past, all tied together with CGI that would feel more at home in a middle schooler’s YouTube video.
One of the series’ most lucrative selling points thus far has been its ability to keep our disbelief suspended – its mythology began rooted in a realm widely believed to exist in real life, and the events that transpired onscreen were just plausible enough to instil some actual fear. There were believable set-ups for why the protagonists would be filming, and the staircase pacing gradually had us more and more on edge throughout the films. That structure began to fall apart with Paranormal Activity 4, and at this point, it’s almost an insult that Plotkin thinks we’d buy this shit.
The story behind Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is so thin, so flaky, and so distinctly bland that it feels more like a Wayans Brothers parody of the series than an actual installment of it. We’re led by the Fleege family – Ryan and Emily, their daughter Leila, and Ryan’s brother Mike – who film everything in their lives, because… Why not? This is chapter -six-, we don’t need to explain shit! Their house built on the site of that from Paranormal Activity 3, Ryan uncovers the camcorder used to document Katie and Kristi’s demonic childhood, along with tapes, no less. Upon starting it up, he begins capturing feedback in the form of shoddily-rendered black goo. So much of the film is Ryan and Mike obsessing over this, as well as the tapes, that Leila’s possession by Toby – the series’ established demon character – feels more like a hasty subplot than it does the story’s main focus. Throw in some hilariously cringe husband-wife-priest banter, and the time travelling portal bullshit that The Marked Ones introduced, and you have a movie that feels simultaneously both generously overstuffed, and embarrassingly empty.
It’s hard to believe that four people grouped together to write Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. The screenplay reads like bad Tumblr fan-fiction, but that might just be a side effect of the no-name cast’s acting, comparable to that of a softcore flick from the ’70s. An eminent exception to this is the six-year-old Ivy George (Leila), who makes for a stunningly convincing demon-child. One note worth making is that Katie Featherston – who plays herself – is not present in the film, nor is Aiden Lovekamp (Hunter). Considering that the entire series has revolved around those two characters, it comes off remarkably disingenuous that they would play no role in The Ghost Dimension. In fact, promotional materials for the film advertise that viewers will be treated to some closure on the Katie-Hunter arc, but this is a blatant lie.
Crudely directed, tiredly paced, shabbily acted and advertised misleadingly, this is a film that we wouldn’t recommend to the most despised of our enemies. If you’re still unconvinced, heed this as a warning – Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension makes the Fantastic Four reboot look like the pinnacle of cinematic perfection.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is in cinemas now.