Paranormal Acivity: The Ghost Dimesnion - Review: Close encounters of the turd kind

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Paranormal Acivity: The Ghost Dimesnion - Review: Close encounters of the turd kind

Every now and then it happens: Jay-Z saying he’s retiring from music; Hugh Jackman claiming this is his last time as Wolverine; or the Government claiming they’ll actually fix things this time. They are the supposed ends that leave us totally unconvinced and still expecting more. Yet all of these pale in comparison to the biggest lie of them all: when a horror franchise claims its next film will be its last. The big horror names are second only to porn (and possibly Disney) for endless sequels and false climaxes. Hell, Friday the 13th “The Final Chapter” was only the 4th instalment... another 8 FILMS LATER, they’re still planning more! Why? The most fundamental rule of most horror stories is that the killer always comes back. It unknowingly grooms an audience to always be open to another film. This Halloween, the game-changing found footage haunting series that are the Paranormal Activity films claim that this 6th offering, The Ghost Dimension, will be its last. The thing is though, it’s such a huge drop off in quality that it might just be the end. Or at least it really should be.

It’s December 2013 and the Fleeges family of Ryan (Chris J. Murray), his wife Emily (Brit Shaw – Nashville) and their daughter Leilia (Ivy George) are getting ready for the holidays. When Ryan finds an old camera and tapes in their garage he soon notices that it see things other cameras can't, which strangely comes in handy, and unexplainable things start happening to Leila.

The fear genesis of Paranormal Activity was always being terrified of what we couldn’t see. So trading that in for “spectral photography” of dodgy CG blurry things was always going to be a recipe for disaster. There’s some attempts at suspense and tension, and occasionally the right effect of nervy anticipation is achieved but everything get squandered when the payoff climaxes are more disappointing than discovering your Chat Roulette hook up is really your mom. Everything boils down to something unknown darting quickly across or straight into the camera at random. It’s so overused it loses all shock value before the night time antics have barely got going. Then there’s the endless number oozing spirit entrances that are so completely out of place with their CG effects that they are neither good enough to be creepy nor bad enough to be comical. Instead, they’re just plain dull. Combine that with the very slow burning plot, and you have a film that even insomniacs will struggle to stay awake through. Donald Trump running for president is scarier than this film and it’s more repetitive than Whoomp There It Is.

So as well as “seeing the activity”, there’s the promise of tying all the film series entries together. This is where Ghost Dimension fares a little better. While there's plenty of discarded dead ends and unexplained significance, it does connect well to many of its predecessors. The best medium is the discovered video tapes. Once they’ve dodged the bullet of why Ryan still has a VCR (his dad’s old porn, obviously), there are some nice creepy moments achieved by past characters communicating to the present through the tapes. Like all the films' scare tactics, it does become overused and eventually develops a Spaceballs “Instant Cassettes” (the latest in VHS technology!) feel to it, but it serves as a good plot device and yields the films only moments that feel naturally creepy. The ultimate conclusion feels a real let down. It’s preceded by some of the worst manipulations of 3D effects you’ll see all year as the crazy switch gets flipped to cartoon levels of stupidity. Then in the final “this was the plan all along” scenes, there’s no fear because everything is a predictable foregone conclusion. It almost feels like the grand plan was a bogged re-write, and that originally, this was going to be a continuation of the series rather than a final chapter. Then when last January’s The Marked Ones brought such a drop in Box Office takings (grossing roughly half as much as films 1-3 and $50m less than no. 4), the plans were changed, and the existing script & story were reconditioned into an off key swansong.

In the great tradition of found footage horror films, most of the cast feel more annoying than anything else. Young Ivy George does okay in selling her possession, but it’s a character even casual horror fans had seen done much better many times before. Brit Shaw benefits by having her character be the most rational, and is by far the most likeable of the group. Chris J. Murray is difficult to invest in as he’s highly unconvincing when running about scared in the dark. The cast member you’ll wish gets red shirted/killed off first (but sadly doesn’t) is Dan Gill’s Mike. He gets the odd half funny joke but otherwise he’s annoying as hell. Finally, Olivia Taylor Dudley’s visiting friend Skyler is token believer archetype. She’s initially fun but doesn’t seem to find a purpose in the film’s 2nd half. As with most of the series, it’s nothing more than a group of disposable and easily interchangeable figures.

What was once a zero budget powerhouse shreds all its remaining quality in favour of pouring money all over everything it can find in the hope of forced escalation. This is not just the worst Paranormal Activity, film this is the worst horror film of the year (so far), whose only supernatural power is to be an unearthly level of disappointment. Longstanding fans will wonder why they bothered. Newcomers will wonder why they were dragged along and spend half the film checking their Facebook. If you’re looking for a scare fix this Halloween this is absolutely the last film you should see; through a spectral camera or regular.


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