Thursday, 22 October 2015

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension: Film Review

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension: Film Review

Cast: Chris J Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George, Dan Gill, Olivia Taylor Dudley
Director: Gregory Plotkin

It began back in 2007 and after global box office domination, spawned another four films of varying degrees of success.

Now, the final film is here in the Paranormal Activity franchise and promising answers after a series of haunted house / demonic child-bothering set up some tantalising ideas.

This time around, it's all set around a family, The Fleeges, dad Ryan(Murray) and mum Emily (Shaw) who just before Christmas, has recently moved to a new home, along with their moppet kid Leila (George). When Ryan's brother Mike comes to visit, he discovers a box of video tapes and a camera discarded in a corner...

Not long after this discovery and discovering that the camera can somehow see otherworldly things, strange hauntings and noises start to plague them all as a demonic creature makes its presence felt (under the Christmas tree).

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension does little to fully wrap up the franchise, even though it offers some answers as to why the Midwives coven's been floating around for these past stories - but fails to fully wrap up Katie's story (a potentially loose end for when financial panic hits).

The film's MO is much the same as the others with bumps, jump scares and jolts stirring the pot up. But with the addition of the 3D, the film has chosen to employ some occasionally effective, but at the same time some unoriginal things-flying-at-the-screen scares. 

For the most part this Nightmare before Christmas doesn't need the 3D and it's mostly turned off until the night time, when the ghostly goings on begin but when wearing the dark glasses makes the viewing experience even more murky. There are a few effective jump scares as the family begins being menaced by what effectively is the Venom goo from Spider-man 3 but they are mainly of the flying at the camera variety. And it taps into a basic primal fear that suburbia relishes - parents who can't fully protect their children from evil, a deeply rich vein that will unsettle all.

And it's a shame certainly in chief for its final sequence that strays into such OTT territory that the film's reasonably effective work at building atmosphere and sustaining the creeps but not deviating from the formula (which is not necessarily a good thing, given how much of a rehash it all is).

However, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is a frustrating experience because of the protagonists' behaviour and the editing of the film. Not once do the characters check the footage they've taken through the night, they know their daughter is being haunted but persist in letting her sleep alone and they make stupid decisions, even though little happens around the house.

Why they don't let others use the camera to show the activity to them is beyond understanding.

The frat boy hijinks of the start when Mike shows fizzle out giving the film an uneven tone and an entirely predictable riff on the Exorcism and Poltergeist takes place. Equally, when moments happen in the film, they cut off halfway through, leaving a feeling of a conclusion of events sorely wanting.

The biggest disappointment of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension though is how it wraps things up. There are no spoilers here, but given the Coven's ultimate plan is revealed, quite why it needed 5 other films to tease it is beyond belief and the fact that Katie Featherston's Katie is not in it when she proved so incremental at the beginning and was a loose end is nigh on irritating.

Ultimately, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is an entirely weak ending to the series, a creatively bereft film that scorns those who've been along for the ride from the start.

Despite a few creative moments here and there that transcend the plot's ideas, it's narratively empty, a film that rehashes both the best and worst of what's gone before and offers no new ground and relies on 3D to give it a USP that's not compelling or exciting. It's clear more is coming (so many loose ends) but really, this found footage franchise needs to be lost and buried for good now.


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