Film review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: GHOST DIMENSION, from ‘Built For Speed’

Is Ghost Dimension the end of the Paranormal Activity saga?  A taped announcement from director Gregory Plotkin before the screening implied as much by claiming that this film would answer every question raised by the other Paranormal films.  While this movie may not answer every question, it does offer a resolution of sorts.

Like all the other Paranormals, Ghost Dimension uses the gimmick of the found footage aesthetic to depict a young family being menaced by an evil spirit.  Here doufus husband and father Ryan (Chris J Murray) discovers an old video camera and VHS tapes in a box left in their home by the previous owners.  When he looks through the camera he notices a strange spectral figure in the family home.  At first he, his wife Emily (Britt Shaw) and their house guests Skylar (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and Mike (Dan Gill) dismiss the anomaly as an optical illusion.  When increasingly violent events start happening around the home, all of which seem to centre on angelic eight-year-old daughter Leila (Ivy George), they begin to suspect a supernatural spook may be at work.

The Paranormal Activity films looked like they were running out of steam after number two, the format became familiar and the scares predictable.  Worse still the films adopted more fanciful elements including over the top cgi effects.  Ghost Dimension doesn’t alter the formula, there’s still the slow build-up of increasingly strange events leading to a violent frenzied conclusion but director Gregory Plotkin manages to induce a few scares.  As in the first film he makes the family home a sinister and alien place in which everyday items and spaces suddenly become strange and threatening.   He makes particularly effective use of dark spooky corridors and events happening in the corner of the frame.  Also, that signature rumbling sound that precedes a ghost appearance is still unnerving.  Plotkin makes reasonable use of 3D managing to immerse us in the action although he occasionally resorts to hurling objects at the camera.

The first half of the film is tense and creepy and often had the audience shrieking but in the second half the film starts to unravel as it tries to introduce more elaborate plot details and sees the old sinewy cgi demons start flying around. The film also borrows gratuitously from other classic horror films such as Poltergeist, The Exorcist and The Omen and starts to look like an indulgent fan-boy project.

The Paranormal films have never been acting feasts although Katie Featherstone gave quite an unsettling portrayal of someone slowly losing their mind in the face of bizarre and terrifying events in the first film.  In Ghost Dimension the actors are really just there to offer exposition, squeal in terror, make occasional jokes and run into dark threatening rooms where no sensible person would go.

It’s a credit to the strength of the original concept that the filmmakers have been able to create six Paranormal films which, despite a dip in quality, have all been at least partly enjoyable.  Now, though, seems like the right time to put the series to bed.

Nick’s rating: ***.

Genre: Horror.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Gregory Plotkin.

Release date:  22nd October 2015.

Running time: 88 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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