Film Review – Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (M)

Directed by: Gregory Plotkin

Starring: Chris J. Murray, Brit ShawIve George

One star

Review by: Julian Wright

The beauty of the Paranormal Activity original lay in its simplicity. Two people, one house, one camera and a few things that go bump in the night. Those bumps turn out to be the doing of a particularly nasty demon. After a run of overly gory horror films, the original’s less-is-more-approach was a nice change of pace and neat spin on the found footage set-up, which was quickly becoming tiresome.

Alas, the box office hit spawned sequels, a prequel a spin-off and now, a 3D gimmick. So late to the party with the 3D approach (people have been leaving this party for years, there are only a few annoying guests left that just wont leave), this franchise is starting to look desperate. This is also reflected in just how convoluted this particular entry gets.

A young couple Ryan (Chris J. Murray) and Emily (Brit Shaw) notice a few strange goings on all of a sudden in their enormous house. Once again, the mansions that the characters in this franchise live in is never explained. The rumblings, and their daughter Leila (Ivy George) acting a little strange, coincide with the discovery of a souped up old video recorder in the house.

The camera, which uses VHS (nostalgia!) picks up an apparition named Toby, the same Toby who Leila has been making friends with. But what no one can see with the naked eye is that Toby is up to no good. There is also some old family home videos that reference the past films and a bizarre inter-dimensional slash time travel thing going on.

Save for a handful of reasonably effective jump scares (the most important thing that these films, no matter the quality, seem to get right), this entry suffers from kitchen sink syndrome. Too much is thrown in and it is all delivered with such gratingly expositional dialogue that is recited in the most ham-fisted, unnatural way, that this quickly becomes a chore to endure. It also repeats several things from the others films (little girl talking to a ghost, annoying man of the house with a camera permanently attached to his hand etc).

Director Gregory Plotkin is less interested in suspense, forgoing the usual long, silent takes this franchise is known for. Characters wander in the dark (why does no-one ever turn on a light?!) only briefly before the scare is delivered. The 3D is only apparent when the creepy old video camera is in use, so even that gimmick is more of a rip-off than usual.

If this franchise continues to limp forward with more entries (surprise, the ending suggests more is to come), at least from this point it can only get better. Maybe.

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