Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Gregory Plotkin
Cast: Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Dan Gill, Ivy George, Jessica Brown, Chloe Csengery, Don McManus, Hallie Foote, Cara Pifko
Runtime: 1 hr 24 mins
Rating: NC16 (Horror and Coarse Language)
Released By: UIP
Official Website:

Opening Day: 29 October 2015

Synopsis: For the first time, see the unseen in Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension – the horrifying conclusion to the Paranormal Activity films.

Movie Review:

So here we are, at the inevitable end of a veritable horror franchise that re-defined the found footage format and established the micro-budget formula for the genre. The sixth instalment in the series, ‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ is the supposedly final chapter that is meant to tie up the loose ends from its predecessors – like, who the demon Toby is or just how the children ‘claimed’ by Toby including Katie from the first movie and Hunter from the second tie in with the coven of witches seen in the later movies – and provide much-overdue closure to loyal fans who have dutifully attended each one of the previous five entries over the last eight years.

Alas those expecting longtime series editor Gregory Plotkin, who makes his directorial debut here, to conclude on a bang will be sorely disappointed, for he and his small phalanx of screenwriters (four, according to the official count) are largely content to stick with formula established by their predecessors. And so, we get yet another young family settling into their new suburban home – Ryan (Chris J. Murray), his wife Emily (Brit Shaw), and their seven year-old daughter Leila (Ivy George) – who sense an otherworldly presence in the house and are perplexed by some increasingly peculiar occurrences.

Ryan suspects that it may have something to do with the cache of old videos left by previous occupants, on which is recorded handheld footage from some twenty over years ago when Katie (Chloe Csengery) and her sister Kristi (Jessica Brown) were just kids – one of the recurring scenes is that of Katie in a trance-like state projecting herself into a different dimension, which Ryan comes to suspect later on is that of Leila’s bedroom in the present day. Besides watching past footage, Ryan and his moustachioed brother Mike (Dan Gill) are invited to discover the activity for themselves with the help of a special camera in the same box as the VHS tapes that is fitted with a special lens which allows spirits to show up as spectral movements.   

As cool as that may sound, it actually is much less exciting to watch. Whereas earlier instalments had at least tried to find new ways to deliver old scares with the wandering ‘pool cam’, the oscillating ‘fan-cam’ or the use of Skype, this new spin on the use of lo-fi video pretty much sucks away the dread and tension that previous films had tried so assiduously to build in each and every frame by revealing where the ghost is coming from. Indeed, even before any one of the characters is thrown aside in typical ‘Paranormal Activity’ fashion or meets his or her end swiftly and unexpectedly, you can already see the apparition building up as an amorphous black mass around the impending victim. Notwithstanding that it does augment the 3D experience (can you believe this is the first to take advantage of the, ahem, extra dimension?), the fact that it takes away the element of surprise unfortunately makes the ‘spirit-cam’ a mood killer.

But more crucially, Plotkin’s film is devoid of the well-executed sequences of previous chapters. Most of the activity this time round takes place within Leila’s bedroom, which as the first movie showed, isn’t a constraint in and of itself – unless all you do within that space is to show the demon waking Leila up at odd hours of the night and whooshing past any other adult who happens to be in the room with her. There is also the fundamental logical conundrum why any parent would let their child sleep alone in the same room night after night knowing full well of the danger that she may be in – and in fact, it is only very late into the film when Ryan and Emily decide to move out of the house that Leila is removed from the epicentre of the activity.    

That last-mile also sees the arrival of a Roman Catholic priest (Michael Krawic), who informs the Fleeges that he will perform an “extermination, not an exorcism”; as you can probably guess, that feeble attempt of capturing Toby by dousing him by salt and throwing a wet bedsheet over him doesn’t turn out all so well for both the priest as well as the family. That it has to resort to one of the most conventional tropes of calling in a man of the cloth is yet another sign that the franchise has run out of ideas, and not even an extended finale which tries furiously to link Leila with Katie and the fiendish plan that the witches had started in ‘PA4’ and ‘PA5: The Marked Ones’ will convince you otherwise.

And so what started as a low-budget sensation out of Slamdance and became a Halloween staple has not only become par for the course but also by and large run its course. There is still some kick to be had with its basic conceit of capturing paranormal activity on home video within the confines of one’s own home, but every subsequent instalment saw that concept grow more and more tired. That is something not even a special camera with the ability to ‘see ghosts’ can reverse, and once one looks beyond that gimmick, there is nothing new that this sixth and hopefully final instalment adds to the franchise. As clichéd as it may be, there is no activity left here, only the sorry spectre of a once potent force of terror. 

Movie Rating:

(Even with the additional gimmick of 'seeing the activity', this supposedly final instalment is no more than a tired retread of the same concept and hardly satisfactory even as closure for the most loyal of fans)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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