Review: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan.

To say I was not looking forward to this movie was a huge understatement. This is a horror franchise which went totally off the rails with the first PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movie being excellent and only the third one being any good and lets not go there to say how bad last years THE MARKED ONES actually was. By that point I had given up on this franchise altogether.

So this wasn’t a movie I was looking forward to but I’m going to share a secret with you… it’s actually pretty good and I found myself enjoying it! This movie attempts to wrap up the whole franchise abd to a point it achieves that aim and it’s only within this movie that we get to see the demon Toby (surely they could have thought of something more evil) and it does offer a few answers.

Starting in familar territory as a new family are terrorised in their home by ever more malicious behaviour, an ancient video camera and tapes are found in the house with the camera able to see what the human eye can’t. As the tapes are played back we find that the recordings made 25 years ago are of Katie and Kristi summoning the demon and one effective scene shows Katie being recorded and she is describing the home and the family who are watching her.

That’s not to say the movie is flawless. We don’t need the psuedo-exorcism nor an ineffective priest. That side of it offers nothing to the story and could have been cut out in favour of more creepiness. Also the CGI might not be to everyone’s liking but I found the representation of Toby as this dark swirling mass of energy as being particularly effective.

So is it worth seeing? I would say a resounding yes to that. It’s not quite the first movie and on a par with the third one and miles better than the rest. I found the two brothers in this movie played it really well and the script is interspersed with some very funny dialogue and they are very watchable, almost playing it quite tongue in cheek. Possibly this is one of my favourite horrors this year.

A found-footage Halloween tradition comes to an end as The Ghost Dimension heralds the apparent conclusion of the Paranormal Activity franchise. Six films in, there’s little denying that the series has suffered from a serious case of diminishing returns over the years, and while this isn’t as timid as PA4 or as convoluted as last year’s ‘The Marked Ones’, the elements still don’t quite converge like they should here and the curtain comes down with a relative whimper.

In 2013, Ryan (Chris J. Murray) and Emily (Brit Shaw) enjoy a peaceful domestic existence with their six year old daughter (a convincing Ivy George) in their new home. After a messy breakup, Ryan’s brother Mike (Dan Gill) comes to visit, and it’s not long after this that they find an old camera and a box of Sinister videotapes (pun intended). While the contents of these are familiar to series aficionados, the family are in a race against time to solve the mystery as their daughter’s increasingly erratic behaviour starts to mirror elements of the tapes.

While it seems trite at this stage to criticise the found-footage conceit when discussing the PA series (after all, six films in you know what you’re signing up for), it does feel like certain elements of The Ghost Dimension are designed to test your patience. When Ryan and Mike watch back the old footage of Katie and Kristi, there’s an undeniable strangeness to realising that you are effectively watching people re-watching Paranormal Activity 3. Repetition aside, the mythology of the franchise is expanded still further and while the resolution isn’t the full-blown implosion it might have been, it’s not especially satisfying either.

The film’s promotion promised that “for the first time, you will see the activity” in this final instalment, and it’s debatable exactly what this brings to the table. The ditching of the ‘less is more’ mentality that has provided the series with it’s most effective moments brings with it an unwelcome dependence on CGI. It’s not a look that’s ever really suited the series, and it squats uncomfortably on a few scenes to the massive detriment of any real sense of suspense. The chances are that many fans of the franchise will find things to enjoy here, but The Ghost Dimension feels like a mechanical re-treading of a well-worn path, and isn’t the grand finale that the series deserves.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is out on DVD from February 29th




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