THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)
Directed by Gregory Plotkin
“What I dig about THE GHOST DIMENSION comes from director Gregory Plotkin deciding to take a slightly different path.”
So the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise ran out of steam pretty quickly, which surely had to be expected when a studio releases five films in six years that do the exact same thing. Hell, at least the POLICE ACADEMY franchise tried to change things up from time to time. But give credit to Paramount for sticking to a formula that earned them over $800 million with a combined five film budget of $18 million. Not bad.
Like all good things, however, everything must come to an end, at least that's what producers Jason Blum and Oren Peli promised with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION. While it went out with a whimper at the box office and ended up crucified by critics, the final installment does have some good moments. THE GHOST DIMENSION starts back in 1988 (the third film) when the evil spirit bends a guy in half, and the little girls are led upstairs where they meet a weird dude. Move to 2013, a new family moves into the house where we have Ryan (Chris J. Murray), Emily (Brit Shaw), young daughter Leila (Ivy George). Joining them are Mike’s goofy brother Mike (Dan Gill) and Emily’s hot friend Skyler (Olivia Taylor Dudley). Obviously, things get strange once they find that magical camera and the bad, bad ghost named Toby comes to visit.
But…let’s get the stupid shit out of the way because some things just can’t be ignored. 1. Ok, what’s with the camera that can see ghosts? Where the hell did that element come from? They just happen to find a magical camera that can see spirits…and they expect the audience to roll with it? Sure. Ok. 2. Even worse, these characters could be the dumbest and most bland people ever put to film, which helps propel the movie into the so-bad-it's-good range. Seriously, they have a camera that can see a giant black demon. Their daughter bites a priest who comes to investigate. That should be enough evidence to bail from the house, but they act like nothing really happened or they don’t understand it. 3. Then there’s that ending (SPOILER). As the “final” film, wrap up the damn thing. Don’t end with yet another vague conclusion where we can only see Toby’s nasty legs and feet. The fans deserve more. Even worse, what the f--- happened to Katie? A character that appeared in every film, the one consistent element and they only mention her in passing. WTF? Boo… (END SPOILER).
Now, with the bitching about the dumb stuff out of the way, I do have a soft spot for the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise and had to overlook the many, many, many flaws of the final film to enjoy it. What I dig about THE GHOST DIMENSION comes from director Gregory Plotkin deciding to take a slightly different path. Of course, the found footage approach remains in play, but this time, we don't waste an hour building up tension and watching trivial things happen. Instead, we have Toby, the evil spirit that we never see, in action arriving in the form of cheap CGI and looking a lot like Venom from that emo SPIDER-MAN movie. It works though with some creepy ass scenes of the black monster hanging out in the little girl’s room and appearing in all the places we have come to expect.
The freakiest moment happens when we first get a clue of the weird shit in the house with the little girl in the bathroom. Her dad whisks her away but behind the mirror, there's a demon-type hand that slowly moves away. That’s disturbing. My favorite moment comes when Ryan and Mike watch 20-year-old VHS tapes they found. Quickly things get strange as the kids in the tape can see what’s occurring in Ryan’s current room, reacting to the present day. It's almost like that famous scene from SPACEBALLS, though slightly less funny.
Though by the end PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION’s ideas feel bigger than the budget as the CGI falls apart, it does remain consistent with the franchise, ending with high tension and answering at least some of the questions of the series. Well, if anyone still cared to learn the answers by this point.