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