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The Ghost Dimension, follows a new family, The Fleeges - father Ryan (Chris J. Murray), mother Emily (Brit Shaw) and their young daughter Leila (Ivy George) - Who move into a house and discover a video camera and a box of tapes in the garage. When they look through the camera's lens, they begin to see the paranormal activity happening around them - including the re-emergence of young Kristi and Katie.
"Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" should have stayed there.
I've always had a lot of respect for the "Paranormal Activity" movies, if not a whole lot of love. "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" (R, 1:28) is the sixth installment in the series, which has scared up about $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide, against less than $25 million in production expenses. The original "Paranormal Activity" (2009) was filmed in the house owned by Oren Peli, who was the film's producer, director, writer, cinematographer and editor. Peli made that film for $15,000 and it ended up earning nearly $200 million worldwide – almost 13 THOUSAND times what it cost. This, of course, was the film that started that billion dollar franchise and, co-produced by Jason Blum, helped establish Blumhouse Productions, which eventually brought horror fans the "Insidious", "Sinister" and "The Purge" films, as well as the Best Picture Oscar Nominee "Whiplash" in 2014. Now THAT'S a success story that anyone who has ever tried to make a buck on their own idea or vision has to respect but what Movie Fans really want to know about a movie is whether it's any good. That's what matters to us.
Personally, I liked all of the "Paranormal Activity" movies but I didn't LOVE them. As they were bringing us creative stories, helping to turn the found-footage subgenre from a novelty into a viable filmmaking option, redefining horror movies for the 21st century and giving audiences thrills, chills and our fills of plot twists, there was a downside to the fun. For one thing, the "Paranormal" movies did what the "Fast & Furious" series did – give us films out of the sequence of the overall narratives of its characters – but even tougher to keep straight. The other problem with the "Paranormal" films has always been a lack of action. Although they've put some scary and interesting moments on the screen, in most of the movies, not a whole lot happens – especially in the first one which seems overly dependent on the single big payoff at the very end of the film. The advertising for "The Ghost Dimension" promises a franchise-capping story that will answer all of the fans' questions and take us where no "Paranormal Activity" has taken us before. The question is whether the sixth installment gives the series the ending fans deserve.
"Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" takes place in 2013, after the events of "Paranormal Activity 2" and reflective of the events in "Paranormal Activity 3", from a present-day perspective. Young married couple Ryan and Emily Fleege (Chris J. Murray and Brit Shaw) move into a house built on the land where the home of Katie and Micah stood in the first film. Ryan and Emily have a little girl named Leila (Ivy George), whom they call Lee, and Emily's sister Skyler (Olivia Taylor Dudley) lives there too. When Ryan's brother, Mike (Dan Gill), newly separated from his wife, comes to stay for a couple weeks, there are then enough unsuspecting people in the house for the ghosts to begin tormenting.
While setting up Ryan's Christmas decorations, Ryan and Mike come across a mysterious box that Ryan says isn't his. Inside there is a series of VHS video tapes and an old, but uniquely upgraded video camera. The tapes show the young Kristi and Katie, circa 1988, being introduced to Toby (as in the third film) and being taught to make the most of their psychic abilities. That camera has the ability to see and record spectral phenomena. As Ryan and Mike try to figure out what's really happening on those tapes and record increasingly prominent ghost-like apparitions, Lee is observed talking to an invisible "friend" and behaving very oddly. At first, the Fleeges try to solve the mystery and protect the little girl themselves. They eventually call in a priest (Michael Krawic), but it starts to look like it might all be too little, too late.
"Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" is a very disappointing ending to the groundbreaking series. The film suffers from the same malady as all the others – not enough action and not enough dread until the very end. The special effects are good, with paranormal wisps of black smoke looking a lot like those in "Crimson Peak", and the 3-D gives a very nice depth to the shots of that wide-open house and those spectral images and it serves the few brief action scenes pretty well. Unfortunately, contrary to what the movie's advertising would lead us to believe, our peek into the Ghost Dimension is frustratingly fleeting, with even the "Poltergeist" remake doing a better job of showing us "the other side". This movie has a half-way decent climactic scene, but the story's ultimate resolution and the final image on the screen elicited dissatisfied groans from my fellow theater patrons. Although I settled for the more subtle eye roll myself, I felt their pain. Basically, this movie gives us the standard "Paranormal Activity" formula, but without a worthwhile payoff. Much like the ghosts that the films portray, the 2015 installment shows that the "Paranormal Activity" movies have outlived their usefulness and should just fade away. "C-"
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