I haven’t actually watched any of the previous “Paranormal Activity” films, and am mostly familiar with them through spoofs of their initially ground-breaking approach to ‘found footage’ films. It turns out this was actually adequate preparation for the sixth installment in the franchise as, for the first thirty minutes or so I thought I might actually be watching a spoof, albeit a bad one.
When the Fleege family dad Ryan (Chris J Murray), mum Emily (Brit Shaw) and young daughter Evie (Ivy George) move into their new home, they’re all set for a wonderful family Christmas. They are joined by Emily’s friend Skylar (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and Ryan’s brother Mike (Dan Gill) for the holidays. When they find a box of video cassettes and a specially modified video camera which can apparently capture images of otherwise invisible spectral activity, they…ugh, you know what, I can’t even pretend to be on board with this nonsense. There is no way that sentence shouldn’t end with ‘immediately leave and never return’.
Found footage films live or die by one factor alone: how credible is it for the characters to constantly be filming/ on camera? “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” fails this test repeatedly – with flying colours. Numerous times when their daughter is in apparent danger, both parents are more concerned with ‘getting the shot’ or grabbing the camera than saving her. Paranormal activity is no excuse for sub-normal parenting.
At its core, there is a reasonably interesting idea as Toby the demon’s master plan over the course of the whole six film series is revealed to be a sort of trans-temporal blood ritual designed to render him flesh incarnate but the story’s buried under all the stupid shenanigans of the Fleeges. Nobody seems particularly bothered by the weird goings-on, even after Ryan manages to capture incontrovertible filmed evidence that something spooky and malevolent is going on. Despite the possession incidents mostly happening at night, everyone behaves normally – they all go to bed in their separate bedrooms, nobody seems to have any trouble sleeping and nobody keeps a close eye on Emily or, you know, moves her out of her bedroom where most of the weird stuff is happening. Even when they eventually call a priest, he pops in for five minutes, disappears for nearly the rest of the movie only to return for a hectic but uninspired finale which is accompanied by some really shoddy 3D CGI.
Apparently it took four people to write the script for this dumb misfire, which is quite an achievement when you only need a couple of fingers to cut and past the phrase, ‘What the fuck?’ over and over again. My favourite part was a weird kind of homage to the raptors in the kitchen scene from “Jurassic Park” which is so idiotic, it’s genuinely hilarious.
Limp, lifeless and at times laugh-out-loud unfrightening, this would-be chiller is lukewarm at best.