Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Gregory Plotkin

Stars: Chris J Murray, Dan Gill, Ivy George, Brit Shaw, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Jessica Brown, Michael Krawic, Chloe Csengery, Don McManus.

The original Paranormal Activity film in 2006 used the found footage aesthetic effectively. It was shot on the smell of an oily rag with a cast of unknown actors, but grossed over $100million at the box office, making it wildly profitable and spawning several sequels. Although the low rent aesthetic and the formula remained the same, the budgets increased significantly and the effects grew more elaborate. But the films themselves became less interesting and diminished the brand as they moved away from the found footage origins.

Now we get the sixth and theoretically last film in the franchise with Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. While initially it promised that it would provide answers to the previously unexplained paranormal phenomena, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension actually raises more questions than it answers. It really delivers more of the same without giving us more explanations about the witches coven or the mysterious Toby or the fate of Katie. This one serves as a direct sequel to Paranormal Activity 3, and although the film does make reference to previous instalments it doesn’t really matter if you haven’t seen all of the Paranormal Activity films.

We meet a family who live in a house that has a dark past, although they are unaware of its history. While putting up Christmas lights, Ryan Fleege (Chris J Murray) and his brother Mike (Dan Gill) open a box that contains an antiquated video camera and lots of labelled videos that were shot some twenty years earlier. These tapes are essentially from Paranormal Activity 3, showing the young Katie and Kristi. Ryan decides to use the camera to shoot some footage of his own, but discovers a strange distorted image on the film. Ryan realises that this is a special camera that can capture images that normal cameras can’t.

Later, when the pair watch some of the videos out of curiosity, they find some disturbing images of a young girl who appears to be being groomed to offer herself up to some supernatural being. Even more unnerving is the fact that the girl seems to be able to watch the pair in the present. But how this happens is never really addressed.

Ryan’s seven year old daughter Leila (Ivy George) seems to be possessed by an increasingly malevolent spirit known as Toby. They decide to put up some surveillance equipment to work out what is going on. Cue lots of shaky camera work and time coded footage. And when things start to go pear shaped Ryan carries a camera with him while he investigates these strange events.

And when it seems that Leila is in danger from the malevolent spirit they bring in a priest (Michael Krawic), who tells them that even if they leave the house the demon will just follow them. An extermination rather than an exorcism seems to be the only answer.

Five writers have cobbled together the screenplay for the film, including Jason Pagan and Andrew Deutschman (who wrote Project Almanac) and Adam Robitel and Gavin Heffernan (The Taking Of Deborah Logan), who all have experience with writing found footage films. But it is a little messy and convoluted, and little of what happens here makes sense, especially given previous entries in the Paranormal Activity universe.

As has been the case with previous instalments we don’t really get to know or care about the characters here as the evil demon tries to pick them off one by one. When he finally appears, Toby manifests himself as an amorphous black mass that can apparently change shape and form. The CGI effects here are quite ordinary. We get a couple of mentions of Katie, who we met in the first film and who has been the backbone of the series, and there are brief references to those other spooky and unnatural events that have provided the overarching mythology and timeline of the series.

This is a fairly dull film and there are precious few moments that will actually make you jump out of your seat. The film also comes in a 3D version, although the effect seems a little dodgy here, and hardly adds to the spooky atmosphere.

Making his directorial debut here is Gregory Plotkin, who served as editor of the previous four instalments, so he is familiar with the formula and the rhythm of the series. He delivers what audiences expect in terms of visuals. This essentially becomes yet another haunted house story with lots of strange events and things that go bump in the night to terrify the unsuspecting family that lives in the house. And it also seems to borrow some ideas from the recent Poltergeist remake, but very little of what happens here is interesting or fresh.

With the disappointing The Ghost Dimension, the Paranormal Activity series ends with a whimper rather than a bang. It’s time to put this whole sorry franchise to bed and not revisit it again.



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