ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCTOBER 23, 2015
By Steve Newton
The makers of the latest (and allegedly last) Paranormal Activity film just don’t get it. The secret to the found-footage series’ success comes from not showing too much, and in some cases hardly anything at all. The scariest entries in the franchise–the first three films–reeled you in by daring you to search for the slightest hint of paranormal activity on the video screens meant to record it.
The brainiacs behind The Ghost Dimension decided to give that activity visible form, in the guise of a tenebrous, shape-challenged demon/ghost. And then they basically beat you over the head with it by having the dark apparition suddenly swoop all over the place, accompanied by a deafening thump or whump.
That’s no way to creep people out, folks.
After an intro depicting some demonic death-dealing from a previous PA film we’re plunked into the sprawling Christmas-ready home of Ryan (Chris J. Murray), his wife Emily (Brit Shaw), and their adorbs seven-year-old Leila (Ivy George). Also on the scene are blonde yoga babe Skyler (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and Ryan’s just-arriving goofball-hipster brother Mike (Dan Gill). While the guys are putting up decorations Mike finds a bulky, peculiar camcorder and a bunch of VHS tapes, which include lotsa footage from the previous films ’cause that’s a cheap way to make a movie.
Meanwhile, like previous kids in the series, Leila makes an invisible friend named Toby, who just happens to be the evil presence causing all the commotion in the first place. When Toby’s antics cause Mike and Ryan to holler “What the fuck!” for the umpteenth time and Leila to get weirder by the day, Emily finally calls in a priest so the movie can turn to time-worn exorcism tropes.
While the static (or creatively jerry-rigged) cameras in the early Paranormal Activity films helped boost the believability factor, the clunky handheld one in The Ghost Dimension gets absurdly dragged around the house to document whatever chaotic supernatural shit is going down. The fact that it’s capturing images in 3D doesn’t heighten the attraction of this bogus production one measly bit.