Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is the 6th and supposedly final entry in the widely popular and successful franchise started by Oren Peli back in 2007. The original’s premise was very simple. Katie and Micah, a young couple start recording paranormal activity in their home with a video camera. Katie reckons she’s been haunted since she was a child and the same entity has come for her again.
Despite The Blair Witch being one of the first found footage features to hit it big in recent years it remained a bit of a one off in terms of spawning slews of copycats. A decade later and PA comes out and a lot has changed. Technology advances have meant making a found footage film can be incredibly cheap. You could film and edit on your phone if you wanted. One of the many issues with found footage is the un-cinematic nature of the footage. As the actors are filming themselves in character the footage is often choppy, jerky and badly framed. PA 1 made up for this with its scare factor. The footage wasn’t cinematic but its formula was. The night time set up was the same and each time the familiar frame of the bedroom with the open door filled the screen I was filled with an increasing sense of dread. The cast were great too with Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat making a very charismatic and convincing couple.
Mega box office returns ensured 4 more films followed. It’s generally thought that the odd number sequels have been better received than the evens. I found PA 2 and PA 4 to be the least interesting. Relocating the familiar story to Oxnard California with a Latino cast for the 5th instalment felt fresher, it was more action than scares but at least it tried to do something different. This brings us to part 6 and The Ghost Dimension. The trailer and press said that for the first time you would be able ‘to see the activity’ and answers to the mystery would be found.
So does the mystery get solved, is the activity terrifying and does the PA franchise go out on a high? The answer is no to all three, it’s the worst in the series.
The action begins with the ending to PA 3, the one set in the 80s with Katie and her sister Kristi as Kids. Between the first and 6th films a lot of mythology has been added. I have to say I’ve found this rather frustrating and distracting. The reason the first was so scary was its simplicity. Now there are covens, conspiracies, time travel and none of it had any real impact and just served to make the simple scares convoluted and increasingly un-scary and usually it meant the final scene of every film featured extras with black eyes wandering towards the final victim or someone screaming into camera.
The most interesting element of the new film was the finding of the old video camera that had been modified so that the Paranormal Activity could be viewed through it. This was all shown in 3D although I saw it flat. The activity is represented by a floating murky soup that darted about and formed different shapes. Toby (the main demon/entity of the series) is shown too as a murky mass of human shaped goo. The jumps scares are all present and correct and there’s very little attempt to actually wring any tension from any of the scenes.
The Paranormal Activity franchise goes out with a whimper.