Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)

For the first time you will see the activity.

It’s almost Christmas and the Fleeges are prepping to enjoy the festive season. There’s husband Ryan (Chris J. Murray), wife Emily (Brit Shaw), their six-year-old daughter Leila (Ivy George), Ryan’s brother Mike (Dan Gill), and friend Skylar (Olivia Taylor Dudley).

Strange events begin occurring with the discovery of a box of videotapes and a customized camcorder that can see what appear to be ‘auras’. Meanwhile, Leila has begun talking with an imaginary buddy named ‘Toby.’ As Ryan and Mike’s curiosities lead them to investigate further, they all become embroiled in a supernatural nightmare.

As the credits rolled on the last entry in the successful low-budget horror franchise Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, I sat with my arms crossed and a frown on my brow. ‘For the first time you will see the activity’ goes the tagline. ‘All your burning questions will be answered’ said producer Jason Blum, The Visit (2015). It’s only half true.

'Hello from the other side.'
‘Hello from the other side.’

Yes, you will see ghostly blobs where there is usually nothing obvious to the characters’ naked eyes and security cameras, but how about finally showing us explicitly that fabled ‘Toby’ demon we’ve been hearing about over the six movies? And how about ending the intriguing back-stories that were built up?

The Ghost Dimension may as well exist in its own dimension, largely ignoring the implications of the twist endings of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014) and Paranormal Activity 4 (2012), refusing to build on the only good aspects of the latter, which implied a larger world of modern cults to be explored in the next episode. Sounded cool, right?

My feelings toward the Paranormal Activity series remain like this — the 2007 original, while not especially thrilling to my taste, was an innovative and well executed effort, while Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) was superb and clearly an anomaly in the franchise, being genuinely unsettling in parts whilst telling the most compelling story of the bunch. Everything else hasn’t added up to much other than a yawn, with its lowest point being the 4th entry from 2012, while The Marked Ones (2014) turned out to be nothing other than a poor Chronicle (2012) knock-off. To complete the picture, the word ‘meh’ comes to mind regarding the 2nd film from 2010.

I nonetheless appreciated the larger world brewing in the background and the series had something of a following. After the so-so performance of spin-off attempt The Marked Ones, it seemed as though the team behind the franchise were really ready to wrap things up. However, just about everything in this last episode reeks of a last-ditch desperate ‘cash-grab’ — the promise of resolve, the promise of revealing all and most blatantly it’s ‘in 3D.’

'But Daddy, I don't wanna watch creepy girls on TV.'
‘But Daddy, I don’t wanna watch creepy girls on TV.’

For the record, I should put it out there that the 3D (which appears in bits) is actually fun when it wants to be, although it probably only lasts for around 15 minutes in total, the rest of the flick literally being in plain 2D. As in, ‘there is no 3rd dimension to speak of here, take off your specs and relax in 2D for a whole collective hour.’ A bit of a bummer really, considering the theme-park style climax, in which ghostly hands grab at you, is a hoot. Isn’t that what 3D was made for?

First-time feature director Gregory Plotkin really ought to have gone the whole hog and created an on-screen 3D glasses cue to make the feature an experience worthy of the gimmicks of director William Castle — I’m thinking namely of his 13 Ghosts (1960), in which special ‘Illusion-O’ glasses (just a simple variant on red and blue anaglyph 3D glasses) would allow an audience member to ‘see’ the on-screen ghosts or not at all. But I digress.

I understand that the Paranormal Activity franchise appeals largely to a demographic that normally doesn’t watch horror films and it’s this audience that may still find The Ghost Dimension a bit of a mindless watch worthy of the occasional shiver.

For long-time fans of the mythology, it’s likely to just give you the grumps.

1.5 / 5 – Poor

Reviewed by Steve Ramsie

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is released through Paramount Pictures Australia