Review: ‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ still adds scares six films in
Back in 2009, Paramount sold the first “Paranormal Activity” with a trailer showing big audiences watching the movie and freaking out. The sixth film in the series, “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension,” follows the same path as that of its predecessors, which means that it’s fully capable of making a theater shriek — provided that this weakening franchise can still pack the house.
Director Gregory Plotkin (formerly the series’ editor) doesn’t vary the “Paranormal Activity” pitch much. The style here is still what could be called “found footage plus,” with surveillance cameras and first-person hand-held shots capturing trained actors giving polished performances, broken up by the occasional loud noise or startling shadow.
Chris J. Murray stars as Ryan Fleege, a Santa Rosa game designer who moves into a McMansion with his wife, Emily (Brit Shaw), and daughter Leila (Ivy George). The Fleeges find a box of old videotapes documenting the supernatural encounters experienced by the characters from “Paranormal Activity 3" — along with a special camera that can see the foggy nether-beasties creeping through their home. Soon, they’re pointing all their equipment at Leila, who seems to be communicating at night with the demon “Toby.”
“The Ghost Dimension” is the first of the franchise to be made in 3-D, which matters most in the movie’s final third, when the evil plaguing the Fleeges manifests as whooshing spirits, headed straight toward the camera. At its most basic level, the “Paranormal Activity” formula still has some kick, with its combination of creepy lo-fi video and tasteful suburbia creating some strong, unsettling dissonance.
But Paramount is planning to rush this picture onto VOD mere weeks after the theatrical run starts tailing off; and frankly, it’s hard to imagine “The Ghost Dimension” working well at home. The story and approach is too familiar, and the jump-scares and comic relief (the latter provided by Dan Gill as Ryan’s bumbling brother) demand a large group of people, stoking one another’s reactions.
As a helpful priest explains in “The Ghost Dimension,” evil entities “feed on fear.” And without a roomful of folks screaming and shouting in unison, viewers may find this movie too wan.
“Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.”
MPAA rating: R for language and some horror violence.
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.
Playing: In general release.
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