Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Shortly before October of 2009, a movie was furtively making the rounds as being one of the scariest movies people had ever laid eyes on.  Although the film was only circulated as a limited feature in larger cities, word had gotten around that this was a film to be reckoned and it spawned a following that caused an uproar with people around the country who couldn’t see it because their local theater didn’t carry it.  It went as far as to initiate online petitions to have it play in smaller cities, even being largely publicized in social media. 

Well, either it worked or Paramount Studios conducted a brilliant strategy to get people enthused for this film, aptly titled, Paranormal Activity.  Whatever the case may be, the social media advertisements and TV spots brought out the audiences in droves to see this flick.

I’ll admit…that first film absolutely worked for me, especially seeing the preview footage of test screenings in that eerie green night vision, watching people jumping out of their seats and screaming…I just had to see what this film was all about!  Even though, at this point, the “found footage” genre had “jumped the shark,” I relied on the word-of-mouth I’d been hearing and reading about, and went to see it when it finally played in my region.  I was hooked with this new horror movie franchise.  Let me tell you, a very few number of people have said it’s not that scary…and if you think that’s true…try sitting alone at night while watching this.  Believe me, I’ve tried and I always shut it off by the time it shows the subtitle stating that it’s the first night.

After the success of that initial film, with a pretty successful two sequels, an iffy third sequel, and a Latino spin-off, we now get the sixth film in this series…Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.

Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan.

Now, from the outset, I’ll just have to say that Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension decided to use something throughout the whole film that people had complained about in the first film (which, by the way, was only used for a second at the end of the film)—computer generated special effects.  See, just about everyone loved that first movie, but complained about the final seconds of it, where the character of Katie (Katie Featherston) looked straight into the camera and her face turned into a demon (via CGI).  The consensus of movie-goers didn’t really care for that, and neither did I—it just took away from the realism that had been displayed throughout the entire story and

just plunged you right back into fantasyland, where the audience became cognizant once again and knew they were only watching a fictional account.  But the filmmakers had gotten away with it, seeing that it was the very end of the film and served as a final nail hammered into the story.  Like I’d said, some liked it, some didn’t.  But, overall, that last second is not what everybody had remembered if you were to ask.  What most people, including myself, recall is the eerie and spooky feel that most people experience when they’re all alone in the house.  The feeling of not knowing when, or if, something is about to happen…the quiet that gets under your skin…the creaks, the unexplained sounds you hear within your home…that’s what that first film gave us.  In Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, they use these special effects as a crutch and it’s very noticeable.

Now, it’s a very novel idea, how this new character, Ryan (Chris J. Murray), finds an old modified camera that, when filming, can pick up visuals not seen with the naked eye.  The only problem is who modified it?  Was it Dennis from the third film?  Since this film features home movies of the younger versions of Katie and Kristi, it must be.  But we’d never seen him create this camera in that movie—he only used a normal one and the only modifications applied was utilizing an oscillating fan’s motor so the camera can pan side-to-side when used unattended.  Right away, this “special” camera is a huge plot hole.

Other than that original idea, there’s really nothing much more this film gives us; there’s nothing new, nothing fresh, just the already-treaded-upon plot we’ve seen in the previous movies.  The family has someone—in this case, it’s Leila (Ivy George), the young daughter—that the demon attaches itself upon, someone video records every single second of everything and way beyond reason, a family member makes excuses for the recorded evidence, and it all climaxes at the very end where some extraordinary moment happens that’s supposed to shock the audience.  With the previous five movies, it worked; with this film—the sixth in the series, I might add, and we know what the typical track record is for a movie of that succession—it didn’t.  The story didn’t give us anything new, nothing was in this movie that we hadn’t seen before, it's just a banal movie that incites boredom within the audience.  It’s too bad because I’d really thought we were going to get something better, especially seeing that we had to wait a bit longer than the other sequels (each one came out a year later than the previous one).

The only thing that comes to mind when remembering this film is that it seemed the filmmakers were diagnosed with Lucasitis and felt the need to put in all kinds of CGI in place of a story, taking away that pensiveness we’d all felt during the first three (part four had it as well, but the story was so convoluted, I don’t want to count that one here).   Even the spin-off was pretty eerie and gave us a fresh take on the subject.

With the other films in this series, I was totally enthralled, waiting to see what would happen next, even though there was a lot of downtime and nothing happening in sections of the film.  Here, in Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, I did go into another dimension.  The dimension of being zoned out and not paying attention to the film because there was nothing to keep me interested.

My final “bit” on Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension?

Skip it.  There is no saving grace here…it’s a rehash of what we’ve seen, a threadbare story, nonsensical actions by the main characters, a gaping plot hole I’d mentioned earlier, and it’s just a plain old boring movie.  Instead of having the subtitle, The Ghost Dimension, it should have been The Final Chapter.

Thanks for reading!