The fact that the Paranormal Activity franchise – a string of micro-budget found-footage style bang-scream-bang shockers - has spooked up nearly a billion dollars at the worldwide box office since Oren Peli’s first $18,000-budget effort scared audience witless in 2007 is more terrifying than anything presented in this samey, predictable, logic-defying final entry in the series.
Where Peli’s first movie was something genuinely hair-raising and original (the found footage gimmick, although nothing new even then, hadn’t yet been ground into the creative dust), a simple tale of two young people in a house terrorised by... well, paranormal activity of the slightly more subtle kind. But as the series has worn on its makers have become increasingly desperate in their attempts to unnerves the audience and that original delicacy of touch was thrown out of the window fairly early on as subsequent movies got more and more silly and less and less scary. A complex mythology and backstory was built up too; mercifully, for those who have been paying attention and taking notes, there is some pay-off in this much-delayed wrap-up (it was originally slated for release as long ago as October 2013) with some loose ends tied up and explanations (or a sort) finally offered.
We’re on familiar PA territory here. Likable young family movie into a rented house to celebrate Christmas 2013. Their eight-year-old kid starts behaving strangely so – using the increasingly-creaky security-cameras-all-over-the-house gimmick – they keep watch over her and discover strange wispy malevolent shapes manifesting themselves (leading to the inevitable tide of bangs and crashes around the house) until things escalate, a blazing doorway opens in the girl’s bedroom wall and a gruesome demonic figure starts to make its presence felt.
This is all well and good but this is obviously a franchise which is now all out of ideas even as it tries to bring its story to a final end. The filming-on-a-camcorder conceit comes and goes on a whim and then there’s the idiocy of people in a darkened house running around screaming and waving torches when they could easily switch all the lights on – have these people never seen a horror film? Ghost Dimension tries every trick in the book – there’s some leery looming and rather unexceptional 3D –but the whole story has thrown its original potential and tenuous plausibility away and all that’s left are CGI spooks and demons appearing and strangling or throwing people around.
Although Ghost Dimension offers the series’ fans some sort of closure it’s all a bit limp and lame and can’t offer up even the mildest of scares. There’s no denying that the Paranormal Activity franchise has been a huge modern horror phenomenon but enough’s enough now and it’s time to put the cheap camcorders away. Other filmmakers take note.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: GREGORY PLOTKIN / SCREENPLAY: JASON HARRY PAGAN, ANDREW DEUTSCHMAN, ADAM ROBITEL, GAVIN HEFFEMAN / STARRING: CHRIS J. MURRAY, BRIT SHAW, DAN GILL, IVY GEORGE / ORELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 5 out of 10