Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is the sixth and reportedly final entry in the franchise that made Blumhouse the found-footage empire that it is today.
Like its predecessors, Ghost Dimension doesn’t stray from its strict checklist of tropes: its story ties into the first movie, it begins with a happy family, things slowly descend into chaos as the main character haphazardly films everything, and all hell breaks loose in the final ten minutes.
I’ve enjoyed watching each of the Paranormal Activity movies over the years, despite their flaws and dedication to its own established formula. In fact, the formula usually works because they introduce new techniques with the found-footage gimmick to scare inventively. They’re all C movies, but my goodwill for the first one has always kept me returning each year.
That said, The Ghost Dimension lacks any sort of invention that made the previous films interesting to sit through. To be fair, The Marked Ones also suffered from this problem, but the film at least had the audacity to dispatch a shootout to these mostly ethereal confrontations. But Ghost Dimension offers nothing new except for a plot device that undermines anything you found frightening about these movies in the first place (assuming you found them scary to begin with).
Early on in the film, the family’s patriarch (Chris J. Murray) comes across a video camera from the house’s previous owners, along with tapes that date back to 1988. We see that the tapes selectively show what happened to the young girls from Paranormal Activity 3 after their mother and her boyfriend are killed by illustrious demon, “Tobey,” and their grandmother.
The film tries throughout to answer some of the persistent questions we’ve had since Paranormal Activity 2, such as the explanation for what really happened to the girls’ mother, why the house didn’t burn down, what the coven truly wants, etc. But many obvious questions more central to the present plots involving Hunter Rey are ultimately ignored.
By the end of The Ghost Dimension, however, you’ll likely stop caring.
The bulking, era-defying aspect ration camera they find allows them to “see” the activity, and this gimmick serves as the film’s only new offering (in order to sell tickets for a 3D film, of course). A major problem, as you can surmise, is that seeing the frights come alive is much less frightening than what your imagination can come up with, and the hackneyed combinations of cameras that mix up when you can see and when you can’t do little to set up true scares.
For this reason, it’s typical Paranormal Activity fare that maintains all of the series’ problems without delivering anything good enough to distract you from the illogical sound effects and improbable plot structure surrounding a lore that’s become increasingly tiresome.
In the past, I’ve recommended even the worst of these films to dedicated fans, but this is the first activity you can surely skip. It merely exists to squeeze 3D ticket sales out of a small-budget movie with cheap effects that show off just how little the creators care about their flagship franchise at this point.
For a more in-depth look at The Ghost Dimension, check back in this Sunday for the Now Conspiring podcast, where we’ll discuss this and other new releases.
I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni
2 thoughts on “Review: ‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ Is a Low Point For a Series That’s Hopefully Finished”
I’m hoping this is the final nail in the coffin for the Paranormal activity franchise. It’s devolved into cheap jump scares and a lack of subtlety.
Hey Jon, I always respect your opinion and I still do, but I think you have it all wrong. I have seen every movie including the marked ones and I love these movies. Sure they aren’t scary and they are only slightly creepy with the ghost/demon/witch elements and jump scares, but it is the story that is so great. I think if you watch them from beginning to end on one setting and look at them like you do the pixar theory you’d have a far better perspective of the movies and understand the bigger picture. I thought the camera idea they brought to the movie definitely brings so much more life to the movie and they finally have an actual exorcism/extermination. Sure it has its corny moments like all the movies, but for story it adds so much more. It explores the time travel idea and actually shows us a little behind the scenes of what this dimension could actually look like. Of course I want to know more about Hunter, Toby in physical form, the witches, and what the girls and hunter have to do with Toby and the significance of Toby. I’d love for one last movie to explore and finish these ideas. But in my opinion this is one of the best Paranormal Activity movies. Plus the character plots were fun.The only thing that sucked for my friends and I is that we saw the movie in 3D in an AMC theater and the 3D wasn’t working so we spent some time of the movie wondering if it was actually in 3D. All in all, I personally think it was a great movie.