There’s a part of me that feels the need to applaud the Paranormal Activity series. There are a number of terrible horror franchises out there, but few have been as financially successful while managing to trot out the exact same set up and execution year after year. But while credit is due, that doesn’t mean that entertainment has been had – and keeping in tradition with its predecessors, the sixth and final installment, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, does nothing to break away from formula and is yet another boring, creativity-lacking sequel.
Even bothering to explain the plot of the film feels repetitive, because surely anyone who has ever seen one of these movies knows exactly how it’s going to work. A couple of young parents (Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw) find that their young daughter (Ivy George) is acting all kinds of weird and talking to an invisible friend named Toby. As a means of uselessly combating what’s perceived to be evil forces, cameras are set up around the house to document any paranormal activity… and night after night of spooky stuff passes, all eventually leading up to a violent conclusion.
There is one gimmick that makes Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension stand out compared to its predecessors, but it would be tremendously hard to argue that it’s actually a beneficial extra. Towards the beginning of the film, the husband/father, Ryan, discovers an old custom camera that seems to have the ability to view spirits and energy from the spiritual dimension. More than just taking away the suspense that comes from the movie’s antagonist being invisible, thus heightening the scare factor, the big addition that it unfortunately supplies is big black globs of bad CGI that float around in any scene meant to feature Toby’s presence. Of course, this also leads to more than a handful of moments where said big black globs of bad CGI fly at the screen in jump-scare fashion, but it’s less pulse-pounding and more exhausting and tired.
Weirdly, 3D has an interesting role to play in the movie, as only scenes featuring the titular “Ghost Dimension” mess with the audience’s perspective, but stylistically the film is a total snore. One of the best ideas that this franchise ever came up with was strapping a camera to an oscillating fan in Paranormal Activity 3, but director Gregory Plotkin offers none of that ingenuity. All of the scenes at night – where the big ghostly action happens – are shot from three different angles (one looking at the hall and two positioned in the little girl’s bedroom), and there is no effort made on any front to actually make the found footage style more visually interesting.
If you’ve stuck with the Paranormal Activity franchise to this point, loving each chapter leading up to this, there is a very good chance that you’ll enjoy Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. Long, boring still shots, easy jump scares, and repetitive morning after freak-out sessions seem to be right up your alley, and if you find it entertaining, then I say more power to you. If you’re like me and got sick of these movies five years ago, however, let me assure you that you really don’t need to see this final installment, as even a desire for some kind of firm conclusion to the series' overarching story won't be satiated.