A series that started so strong, 5 movies ago, Paranormal Activity flamed out after The Marked Ones, and I was really surprised to see that it came this far. That said, just like with the Saw films, I needed to finish this out. So, with the final chapter we enter The Ghost Dimension.
Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan.
So, we have completely abandoned the Latin American characters from The Marked Ones, and also pretty much the characters from the 4th film, and return focus to Katie and Kirsty’s story line. This “effort” was directed by Gregory Plotkin, the editor of the last four movies, and has a whopping FIVE separate writers. Now it’s possible that these came from different drafts, but it’s still too many writers. Writers from the films Project Almanac and The Taking of Deborah Logan. Now, there are actually some interesting ideas at the core of this movie, and I feel like those come from the stronger or more interesting writers in the pool. Ultimately those interesting things are bogged down in what is, honestly, a whole bunch of stupid nonsense.
Now, anyone who has read my previous reviews of found footage movies knows that I don’t object to that style of film making, and can even suspend my disbelief in a pretty solid way, as long as the story is interesting or the characters work. This is one of the first times that I really started to nit pick the actual found footage elements of the movie, because there was just nothing else to engage with. The “spirit camera” that is found in the main character’s home is massive and would be hugely heavy, but the characters have no issue handling it like a small HD camera. It just doesn’t work and really breaks the immersion.
The characters are also pretty weak here, they are essentially copy-pastes of the family characters from the previous movies, because they’re all basically expendable. They are flat, one dimension characters, and it’s too bad, because the actors have just nothing to do. The plot revolves around the demon Toby, and his band of witches, trying to steal one more little girl, in this case it’s actress Ivy Rose (Krampus), who is good enough in the movie. She really isn’t much of a presence, but does a good enough job. The movie also stars Chris J. Murray (GTA IV), Brit Shaw (Nashville), Dan Gill (The Wedding Ringer) and Olivia Taylor Dudley (Transcendence), and honestly the whole cast is pretty forgettable. It’s not that they are BAD, it’s that there’s just nothing interesting happening.
As I mentioned in the beginning, there are interesting elements in the movie. It’s the first time you see the apparition of Toby, and initially his design is pretty bizarre and spooky. He reminded me a bit of the simbiote and for a hot second, was actually a little bit scary. The trouble is, as the movie goes on and Toby becomes stronger her takes a more and more ridiculous and unappealing form. At one point he reminded me, quite a lot, of that one scary face from the poster for Grave Encounters 2, and was a ridiculous CG monster. It just seems like once the movie treads close to being interesting, it quickly pulls back and makes sure to throw in a loud WOOSH noise to scare the audience. It’s really a shame, because the “scares” in the movie are all loud noise jump scares that telegraph themselves really heavily.
There are elements from The Marked Ones, regarding time travel that make an appearance here too, and might actually be interesting if not hindered by the found footage format. You are given the same perspective as the family, and have no information, so you get the sense that there is something interesting just below the surface, that we don’t get to see because the focus is on garbage. The other problem is, that without context so much of the movie doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
At the end of the day, this is absolutely one of the weakest film in the entire series. The scares are lazy, there is no atmosphere, and it runs full speed through the movie, while still managing to feel dull and slow. If you’re expecting some kind of mind blowing revelation that answers all questions you’ve ever had, you’re going to be disappointed. It certainly wraps up this story, but there is no element of finality here. It’s still open in the end, and feels like cheating just in case this made money (which it didn’t). Hard pass on this, and especially don’t spend the money on 3D.