Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension was terrible. This was my first exposure to the franchise and it will definitely be my last. What a mess. I’m forgoing my normal ‘no-spoiler’ rule for this review. If you want to be surprised by this movie, (and you’re actually going to watch it) maybe go see it before scrolling down.
Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan.
I actually liked the premise. I like the Magic Camera That Sees Ghosts. The idea of ‘spirit photography’ is an intriguing one and I think in the hands of a capable writer, a decent movie could have been made. This was not that film. For one thing, the Magic Camera made everything look awful. Let me tell you: 3D and handheld camera POVs do not mix. It was painful to watch. Also it wasn’t at all believable. Half the time they weren’t even using the Magic Camera (see above, re: looked like ass) and they just didn’t have much reason to view life through another (normal) camera. Plus (maybe it’s just me here) but it seems unlikely a character would choose to keep looking through an 8 pound camera while running for their lives. But they sure did.
The acting was surprisingly good. The characters weren’t that great but the actors were 100% committed. Best of all was child actor Ivy George who was amazing. She could be sullen or cheerful or creepy or innocent exactly as the plot demanded.
I hated the writing. Not since Fantastic Four have I seen such a poorly paced film. The characters don’t have goals, other than idle curiosity about the Magic Camera which slowly drifts into fear about the Big Dark Shape. We drift from pointless scene to pointless scene. And it was just ONE scene done again and again: they explore the house with the camera, see something creepy and investigate, seem to find something and then a dark shape rushes the camera, everyone freaks out. Over and over and over. Even knowing there was going to be a jump scare, it was boring.
Horror needs to establish rules and then abide by them. The characters gradually learn the rules and succeed or fail to and are crushed. Nothing is explained. That would work if you showed the Rules in action but Paranormal Activity didn’t seem to have any rules. The Big Dark Shape hated Christian iconography but it sure didn’t seem to have any reason to – religion didn’t even slow it down. And the Big Dark Shape didn’t seem to actually do much other than hiding and then rushing the camera and occasionally knocking it over. Until the very end when suddenly it’s super powerful and killing everyone.
This movie had nothing to say about anything. There was no question to be answered, no statements on what it is to be human or why you should be, say, afraid of the dark. It’s not Movie Chinese Food – I wasn’t even entertained while watching it. Even my friend who dragged me to this film, hated it. Don’t go see it. If you’re curious, watch the trailer; it was better than the film itself.