Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Review
I don't care what anybody else says, the "Paranormal Activity" franchise has been the best horror franchise of the 21st Century. While "Saw" had a great first film, it quickly wore out its welcome, being a complete parody of itself. I remember when I sat in the theater in October 2009, seeing "Paranormal Activity" for the first time, and its been the most fun I have had at the theater for a horror film in a long time. I love that it reminded us that more can be better, I love that it showed that found footage isn't always a terrible decision, and how to use the device wisely. It took the filmmakers two years to finally release it. They changed the ending a bit (even though the original ending was pretty, freaking creepy.) but they had a monetary juggernaut on their hands.
I was a little hesitant when "Paranormal Activity 2" came out, simply because I thought it would just be more of the same with a different family. While that is kind of true, its kind of not true. The genius of the franchise has been telling a complete story, developing the characters more and more with each new film and creating a mythology that expanded with each new chapter. The only thing that worried me is that with each new chapter, the ending was more questions than answers, and I thought they'd keep it that way to keep the cash flowing. "Paranormal Activity 4" is still my least favorite simply because, it didn't try anything different in terms of scares and it didn't expand the mythology much at all. I didn't want this to slump into every other horror franchise.
If "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" is the final film, then fans of this story will be delighted. This is the perfect time to put the bow on the series, and this film has the potential to end things perfectly. This movie is more answers than questions, and we can see a complete story with an equally complete ending. Oh, and I should say that this film is still packed with scares.
The film revolves around the Fleege family, who recently moved into a new house in Santa Barbra California. Ryan (Chris J. Murray), his wife Emily (Brit Shaw) and his daughter Leila (Ivy George) are preparing for Christmas when Ryan discovers an old box of videotapes, all dated from 1988 and 1992. He discovers the tapes show two little girls involved in some spooky cult business. If you've been keeping up with the series, you know which girls I am talking about. But what's freakier is that the girls seem to be describing the Fleege family in 2013! All the while Leila spends most of her time with an imaginary friend. That imaginary friend's name is...you guessed it...Toby.
Ryan finds this 3D style camera, and at first I thought this was going to be a stupid idea. What made the previous movies so scary was that we couldn't tell what was happening, and it made for a more frightening affair. Turns out, director Gregory Plotkin found a way around this. Because even though the camera can pick up when a ghost is in a room, it still has the ability to scare. There were some pretty effective "boo" scares in this movie. The moments when Leila is talking to Toby and then does things around the house for him, completely horror.
While I enjoyed this movie throughout, and while I just discussed how complete this felt, there were parts of the ending I couldn't stand. After being faithful for so many years, I think its fitting to finally put this story to bed, especially since "Paranormal Activity 4" all but confirmed that this series is running out of gas. But at the very end, there is this little glimmer of light that maybe we aren't done and maybe there is more story to tell. Come. On. This coupled with a recent studio executive explaining that he wants to keep it going as long as possible makes my skin crawl. This was the best way to end things and it is a miracle we got six movies of terror all telling a cohesive story and then got a fitting ending. Why does Hollywood always have to tarnish good things for more money?
All good things have to come to an end, even horror franchises. "Paranormal Activity" offers a fitting conclusion that ties up all the loose knots. Now, the real question is can they run with it. Can they keep it that way. Sometimes what makes a thing so good and so timeless is its will to end, and again its a miracle that the ending to things was so satisfying. At least they tried to give a good explanation to all the questions we have had over the course of this franchise. If you have been enjoying this series, then you will love this one too.
FINAL GRADE: B