Review: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
PLOT: Upon discovering a special camera that can see spirits, a family man and his brother are drawn into a dangerous world of demonic entities. Things get even more terrifying for the two when it begins to go after the married brothers’ young daughter.
REVIEW: Sometimes the less you see the better. This is especially true with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION. As the story begins, we find yet another family in supernatural peril. And for awhile, I was actually enjoying the ride. With the addition of 3D helping to solidify a mysterious entity, the audience is given much more than a glimpse of what had been previously hidden. Through some spirit compatible video camera, we see a dark figure that presents itself as a black mass of energy. Of course this may be used to explain why they don’t put the damn camera down, but more than anything it allows the filmmakers to throw bits of ghostly energy in front of the screen for the sake of 3D. In the beginning, this trick can be a fun little diversion, but it soon loses its charm.
The story revolves around two brothers, Ryan (Chris J. Murray) and Mike (Dan Gill). When Mike arrives to stay with his brother and his family, wife Emily (Brit Shaw) and their young daughter Leila (Ivy George), strange things begin to happen. Things get progressively worse after the two find an old camera, one that apparently can see into the spirit realm. Much to their dismay, Leila begins to act strangely, talking about her new friend Toby - a name you will be familiar with if you’ve been paying attention. There is sleepwalking, a game of “Bloody Mary” done in front of a mirror and a disturbingly obvious and constant black shape that appears on-camera anytime we hear the familiar drone from the film’s soundtrack. Something is dead set on staying close to Leila, and you can bet it will cause some serious damage along the way.
Let’s make things clear, I am not a hater of this franchise. In fact, aside from the fourth installment, I’ve generally enjoyed the spooky tales of witches and demons. For THE GHOST DIMENSION, it is clear that there is a whole new chapter awaiting in case this makes a bunch of money - and it probably will. While certain questions are answered, it is not nearly as satisfying as it could have been. This is not to say that there aren’t a few scares scattered throughout, in fact there is legitimate tension to be found. It’s just a shame that most of the answers only bring up more questions. Continuing from the third chapter, we find that there is a whole other side to young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown). Who is this dude in the ponytail? And why is he hanging around a bunch of witches and little girls?
On the bright side of this dim light, I personally couldn’t help but like the actors involved. Both Chris J. Murray and Dan Gill work well together, and they offer much needed humor to this ghostly story. Brit Shaw as the wife is fine, and the same can be said for Ivy George as the young girl with a very close bond to the dark side. The family dynamic works, but by the end it was just too much of a mess to become fully invested in their plight. The real star here is the many things flung at the camera, including shadows, furniture and the little bits of spirit energy that drifts whenever Toby is present. All this works well enough until we finally get a clearer view of the beastly spook threatening a perfectly decent family.
Director Gregory Plotkin manages to inject energy into the house of horrors. Yet the script, one which is credited to a number of writers, is a mess. Using part of the franchise mythology, while adding new elements, there is little sense in the madness at hand. The camera that can see into another dimension is a silly premise, but a great way to add some dollars with 3D. Sometimes this works, but most of the time it doesn’t. You still end up with people running around in the darkness screaming f*ck because of the strange occurrences. And when that final sequence comes crashing down around the characters, it is far from frightening.
Sure I’ve had my moments of enjoyment with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, but this “final chapter” adds nothing interesting to the fading franchise. It is not the worst in the series, but it is far from the best. In the end, you will have a little more knowledge about this Toby character, but you probably won’t care. It also didn’t help that one of the most intriguing elements of the series is never brought back - for fans of the series, you should be aware of a certain character I’m referencing. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION expands the universe created by Oren Peli - the original film’s director and franchise producer - but it also proves that too much of something is not always a good thing.
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