Every Franchise Has to End Eventually, I Guess…
Main Cast: Chris J. Murray and Brit Shaw
Director: Gregory Plotkin
With a slew of sequels, prequels, and a spin-off, the activity comes to a head in 2015’s final installment, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.
It’s 2013 and Ryan (Chris. J. Murray) and Emily (Brit Shaw) have been in their house since 2010 with their daughter Leila (Ivy George). Ryan’s brother Mike (Dan Gill) has come to stay for Christmas, and Emily’s sister Skyler (Olivia Taylor Dudley) is there as well. One day Ryan finds an old box of VHS tapes and an ancient video camera.
You know what happens next, because you’ve seen the other movies in the series. Things start happening in the middle of the night, and the activity is centered around Leila, who has taken to conversing with an invisible friend named Toby.
Now, normally we’d have to take their word for it, but this camera Ryan found is able to see what the naked eye–and every other video camera Ryan has, which seems to be a lot of them judging by the many different angles we’re allowed to see at night when the family is asleep–can’t: Toby.
Not only that, the videotapes he’s found also show us what happened to Katie and Kristi in the four years following the death of their mother and their mother’s boyfriend at the end of PA3. Apparently Grandma Lois had a friend who came over to the house frequently and videotaped himself hypnotizing Kristi into using some kind of psychic gift. Whatever he was trying to unlock within her, the most we get to see is that it allows her to see Ryan and Mike as they watch her tapes 25 years later. It’s a neat idea and I like how it was pulled off here.
From there, things happen pretty much as we expect them to. Ryan is convinced there’s something in the house with them, something that’s coming after their daughter, while everyone else is skeptical, despite each of them having had strange experiences themselves, not to mention the ancient camera has filmed Toby manifesting in Leila’s room in the middle of the night and her waking up and talking to him. Eventually, however, they all come around and try to figure out, with the help of a priest, what Toby is and how to get rid of him.
Finally, the Paranormal Activity movie that has an actual climax! Be still, my heart.
I liked Ghost Dimension a lot and wish it wasn’t the end of the franchise (according to imdb, it cost $18 million to make these 6 movies, and they’ve grossed $811 million. That tells me to KEEP MAKING THEM). But I know eventually you gotta move on and do something different. Plus the girls who play young Katie and Kristi, and adult Katie herself–who, for the first time makes NO appearance in a PA movie–aren’t getting any younger, and eventually it’s going to be impossible to pass off a 45-year-old Katie as 25-year-old Katie in yet another flashback sequence. But still, I like these movies and would love to see the story continue.
The actors were better than usual, I think. Murray doesn’t have a ton of credits, but he doesn’t need them when he’s got talent. As for Shaw, she’s been on TV for over ten years at this point and definitely knows what she’s doing. Ivy George herself had already wracked up 4 credits in a year before this movie, and she’s going to be one to watch as she grows; this little girl is a really good actress even at such a young age.
Gill provided some much needed levity, while Olivia Taylor Dudley brought her horror cred from Chernobyl Diaries and The Vatican Tapes. All in all, this is probably the most solid cast of the series.
While it took three people to come up with the story, and four to write the screenplay, I feel like director Gregory Plotkin managed to work this into a pretty intense cohesive whole that made me uncomfortable to be watching Ghost Dimension alone more than once. No surprise considering he’s served as either editor or producer on every other PA movie starting with part 2. Obviously this guy knows the world and understands how best to create tension and drama within the confines of the found footage method.
When it first came out and I heard nothing but bad reviews, I was expecting to go in and this would be the movie that finally screwed the pooch, but I have to say, I dug this movie a lot. I don’t see what all the fuss was about. That being said, I’m ride or die with these movies, so that may have played into it. Either way I do think The Ghost Dimension was a well-made horror film with plenty of valid jump scares, lots of creepy imagery, an exciting third act, and some really good performances. I mean, what else do you want? Good series of films and this was as good a way to wrap it up as any (although I’d just like to reiterate my disappointment at it being over. Sad face emoji).