The sixth installment of the popular but polarizing franchise creeps into theaters this Halloween. The latest chapter is set in December of 2013, with The Fleeges family father Ryan (Chris J. Murray), mother Emily (Brit Shaw) and their young daughter Leila (Ivy George) moving into a house and discovering a video camera with a box of tapes in the garage. When they look through the camera’s lens, they begin to see the paranormal activity happening around them, including the re-emergence of young Kristi and Katie from the third film. “The Ghost Dimension” serves as a greatest hits for everything that is wrong with this franchise. Six films in and I have yet to find one film that i can use as a peak for this mind numbingly bad series. The movie casts idiots with the same laughable responses, time traveling, something that greatly upset me about the last movie, and many wastes of scenes that go well beyond logics in recording.
If there is one thing i enjoyed about the film, it’s the improvements in visual technology that the film takes on. The movie has more of a crisp look from the POV cameras used in the film, but even this is a fault as we are supposed to be seeing the events through a basic 80’s handheld camera, not an HD clear picture. The cameras once again have that amazing capability to listen in on conversations going on from clearly across the room. Can this be done on a basic VHS camera? Does anyone care? Is anyone listening? If the film took a little of that artistic capability and used it for the story, this film wouldn’t be one of the absolute worst films that I have seen this year.
That brings me to the problems with this film, and boy are there a lot of them. The time traveling aspect of this series is back, and I would like to think that is the most shark jumping point of this series, but it’s not. The movie now looks like something out of a SyFy film of the week, complete with predictable scares and some of the worst CGI ghost designs that I have ever seen in a film. These aren’t even ghosts, they’re something out of a Guillermo Del Toro campfire story. I feel like “Crimson Peak” was still stuck in my mind from seeing it just three days ago, because the ghosts from that film are now jumping into this. It just doesn’t work because “Paranormal Activity” (At least until the fifth movie) was always pretty grounded in it’s paranormal aspects. This is a world where ghosts live in, but the best part of those scares was always what you didn’t see. This film has jumped that thought process fifty times over with laughably bad designs that lack little definition because the film’s CGI believes it is better to cast these ghosts in the darkest room possible, proving the film’s premise isn’t the only thing that lacks clarity.
The acting is terrible. It feels like something out of a 90’s Sears air conditioning commercial. I don’t claim to be the wisest man on the planet when it comes to reactions and responses, but The Fleeges Family has to be among the very dumbest characters who i have ever seen in film. Unlike other families in this franchise, these people get early warning of the kinds of hells that happened in their house and do NOTHING. They continue to stay in this house like nothing ever happened, and ignore the night mayhem. Their daughter is literally channeling Satan, talking to imaginary spirits who have her writing satanic imagery on her bedroom walls, and being completely disrespectful and combative to her parents. Yet the best that they can do is stay hunkered down and wait for the storm to clear. I was praying for these people to die in the film, just so the 84 minute run time could go smoother. The film just kind of whips us into their storylines without giving them any kind of meaningful character traits, or anything symbolic to make them stand out from the rest.
I want to talk a little bit about the screenplay for this movie; it’s as exciting as watching paint dry. The film (Written by four different people) feels very sloppy and rushed without any real moments of discovery for the audience to understand just what the hell is going on here. If there is one thing that always upsets me about these found footage genre films, it’s when the movie will leave the camera on through some of the most illogical events, but then cut it super quick whenever something is getting explained in the payoff. Every single time i even got remotely glued into one of the explanations on the history of the girls from the third movie, or the daughter of this family explaining what happened, the movie cuts to another pointless scene and we are left wondering why we spent ten dollars on a movie with a bunch of scenes that never clearly connect. When the producers realize they haven’t done anything for roughly seventy minutes, the movie decides it better wrap it up quickly. The finale made me yell out in the theater “THAT WAS WORTH THE EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT”. Nothing different from the other films happens, but even worse, we can’t see what is going on to begin with. The framing is completely captured from adults, when in reality it feels like a toddler’s first camera experience. The film talks all movie about this apparition, but we never get any kind of payoff from him. We can vaguely make out what is happening, but how many times can we the audience see the same movie with the same ending and feel satisfied?
“Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” reaches new heights in a truly tired film franchise. Just when i think the series can’t get any more disrespectful to it’s audience, it does something truly off the wall. There is no sound more crippling than the silence you will hear after one of these movies when the first names on the credits appear. The fact that nobody cheers, boos, or makes any kind of noise, should tell you everything you need to know. This series isn’t reaching even the most dedicated of fans anymore. Time to take these paranormal tapes and burn them. With the cold Winter coming, you’ve already given these films more purpose that over nine hours of scren time has.