Movie Review – Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

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The Paranormal Activity series is finally reaching its climax after 6 movies and hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. Can Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension end the series on a high note or is it just more of the same?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in the paranormal, conspiracy theories, and other things like that. I don’t know why it interests me, I simply always find myself watching things like Paranormal Activity, Annabelle, The Exorcist, and other similar movies. I remember walking around Blockbuster one day in 2010 and seeing Paranormal Activity on the shelf on Blu-Ray for a measly $5. I had wanted to see the movie for some time after hearing about how terrifying it was by so many people online and commercials on tv. I bought it and went home to watch it later that day and I felt like I had wasted so much time. I thought the movie took too long to build up and didn’t offer much payoff in the end.

I wrote off the first film and hoped the second would be better. In all honesty, it was tied with if not worse than the first movie, but I was still strangely compelled to see the next movie, and the next movie, and the next. Paranormal Activity became more than just a creepy movie, it became an intricate story spanning many years. That’s what kept me coming back, the cliff-hanger endings and the promises of more information in new trailers. I wanted to understand what this demon wanted and why it was tormenting the characters and causing so much havoc. After so many questions, I finally saw a trailer with Jason Blum, one of the producers of the movie, saying that all the questions from the previous movies would be answered in The Ghost Dimension and I got excited! I craved the conclusion after waiting since 2010 when I first saw the very first movie to understand what the end result would be. If this was to be the final chapter, then why do I still have so many questions?

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Katie and Kristi in 1988 are shown on VHS tapes found in beginning of the movie.

The truth of the matter is, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension just isn’t all that scary. In the earlier films, there were genuine moments where things happened unexpectedly and surprises got your attention. I feel like this movie stuck to the tried and true formula of the series so much that it didn’t have enough diversity and purpose to make it feel worthy of the movie that the series can hang its hat on. The “Night #X” title cards, the cameras looking around the house, the random noises and bangs, it’s all been seen and done (better) before. Even the jump scares were so predictable that no one made a peep in the theatre.

The Ghost Dimension decided to borrow from a few other movies in rather similar ways, at least to me. Sinister was one with the box of VHS tapes that Ryan (Chris J. Murray) watches in which he sees Katie and Kristi in 1988. It’s not like these tapes are of killings or anything, but it’s the same premise that the demon or the Coven left the tapes there on purpose for this family. Poltergeist was another in which Leila goes through a portal in her wall whereas in Poltergeist it was a mirror (or tv in the remake). The whole movie felt like it was just borrowing from other movies even if I couldn’t pinpoint which ones it was borrowing from. It just seemed uninventive. This isn’t horrible because most movies do this, however, this one just seemed like we’d seen it all before.

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Leila under the influence of Toby.

It was lame to find a camera that could actually see the demon and anything weird that was going on, almost like they threw in the towel and said, “Ok, let’s just get this over with and show him”. They didn’t show Toby right away though. They showed particles and weird black streaks for a good 15 minutes before you actually saw the form of a face. Then, the rest of the movie saw Toby popping up on the walls, floors, ceilings, and just about everywhere else. The novelty of it wore off very quickly.

In a lot of ways, I truly believe that finally seeing Toby (the demon) is what made this movie so much more unimaginative than the rest of the series. Gone was the unknown and instead you had a black blob right in front of you that you knew was the entity and it wasn’t nearly as scary or unsettling as before. There was a seen where Ryan and his brother Mike (Dan Gill) were in the kitchen hiding behind the cabinets and waiting on the other side was Toby. Instead of it being an unknown force, they knew exactly what was there and it just didn’t have the desired effect on the audience because we had already come into contact with him a few times. This brings me to my next point of the characters nearly ruining this movie for me.

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Katie & Kristi in 1988 on one of the VHS tapes.

The characters in this movie were pretty stupid and one-dimensional. Each character had no sense to get out of the house or stay together or contact some type of person who could help them get rid of this demon who was terrorizing their home. Nope, they stayed there and went through night after night of traumatic experiences before they finally had the clue to call someone. Even after finding a priest who didn’t come back for days, they didn’t look for anyone else or try anything else. It just didn’t make sense after having all kinds of proof that an entity is trying to do something to your child that you wouldn’t do everything in your power to make it stop. Eventually it got to that point but it took way too long. I will say that I enjoy the fact that throughout this series, they haven’t stuck to a script and have given their actors a general direction to go with and letting them ad-lib most of their lines. It makes it feel more genuine even if you don’t agree with the direction the movie is going in.

The movie was shot in 3D and it was easily one of the worst 3D movies I’ve seen. There were countless times that I looked to see if I was missing anything by putting the glasses down and it was completely clear. The 3D effects were few and far between and definitely not worth the extra price of admission. I would have much rather paid less to see this movie, but 3D was the only option available.

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The portal to the Ghost Dimension.

The Ghost Dimension was supposed to answer all the questions, but it just left us with more in the end. We never did see Toby’s face, never found out what happened to Alex after seeing all those Coven witches in the PA4, and we never found out what Toby’s purpose will be now nor what the girls will be used for. There are far more questions than that. It leads me to believe that there will be a new trilogy or possibly more focusing on the events after The Ghost Dimension. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Paranormal Activity should have been a 2 1/2 hour movie with all the filler material taken out. The story would have been very compelling that way, nothing ever happens for like the first 3 to 4 nights and it doesn’t build suspense effectively enough, it just puts people to sleep.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension could have been handled a lot better than it was. It answered some questions while posing some more in typical PA style. For the supposed finale of the series, this one left so much more to be desired and I wish we would have gotten a longer movie with more answers rather than an 85 minute lull that focused on yet another child being forced to cater to Toby. Let’s hope they put Paranormal Activity to rest with this one for at least a few years and come back with something that fans can be proud of. If you’re a fan of the series, you need to see this just to say that you know what happened. If you’re not a fan then this is definitely not something you should go see. The series has always brought me in to see the next part of the story, but I think it’s a good thing for this series to take a break for a bit.

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