‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ Review

paranormal_activity_the_ghost_dimension

Director: Gregory Plotkin

Writers: Jason Pagan, Andrew Deutschman, Adam Robitel, and Gavin Heffernan

Cast: Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George, Dan Gill, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Don McManus, and Michael Krawic

Synopsis: Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I was one of the many fans here in Chicago to see the first Paranormal Activity when it finally came out in theaters in its first limited run, before it finally came out in a wide release. I had heard the buzz surrounding the film from the film festivals, and how it had a troubled timed getting into the right hands so people can actually watch it. So, to my delight, I loved the first film, and is actually one of best movie theater experiences ever. The crowd was into it, I was into it, and I couldn’t wait to tell people to go watch it. The first movie was something special. It felt like an old school horror film and one that didn’t rely on buckets of blood, gore, nudity, or stupid teenager characters. Instead it was a slow build to an impactful and chaotic ending. Paranormal Activity restarted the trend of found footage films which took off like wildfire. However, the series has taken a slump in quality, and The Ghost Dimension which is labeled as the “final film” promised to answer all the questions that have arising in the series. If this is truly the last film in the series, then it wasn’t the best ending, nor the ending I would have wished to see this series go.

635705790165292767-XXX-PA5-FF-004-DCB-74005934-620x400

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension starts off like every other entry. A new family is introduced in the Fleege family. Ryan (Murray) and his wife Emily (Shaw) along with their young daughter Leila (George) have moved into a new house around Christmas time. They also have Skyler (Dudley), Emily’s sister, and Ryan’s brother, Mike (Gill) living in the house for the holidays. Ryan and Mike eventually discover a box of VHS tapes and a modified video camera that picks up strange things and shapes in the house. When Ryan and Mike watch the tapes they find even stranger things as they see young Katie and Kristi (Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown reprising their Paranormal Activity 3 roles through a mixture of old and new footage) as they are put their some sort of initiation. Of course, strange things start to happen around the house, Leila starts to act strange and out of character, and the family eventually figures out that the house may have something sinister.

Paranormal-Activity-The-Ghost-Dimension-Trailer

As you probably guess with the opening of the review, I’ve been a fan of the Paranormal Activity series, well, for the most part. I really liked their first three movies, and The Marked Ones – which is considered a spinoff – but the fourth film and this last film are the weakest of the series. The Ghost Dimension is also the first movie of the series to go 3D, which is keeping with the trend in horror that the final installment is in 3D. I didn’t watch the movie in 3D, but it looked like the biggest 3D moments where in the end and unfortunately it didn’t really help with the mix of really crappy looking CGI.

para

Speaking of the CGI, I think this is the most heavy-filled CGI installment, due to the fact that the series introduced a camera that can finally see the demon that has been terrorizing families from the start, Tobi. However, what could have been a cool effect actually comes out as wonky and not as scary as you would think. In fact, I would have been okay with Tobi being the unseen force, especially seeing what they did with him. The unseen presence was one of the best parts and what made the Paranormal Activity movies just a bit more terrifying. Finally seeing the force behind it makes it a bit more “real” and takes away the effectiveness of it all.

VI7yi7Gun19va7_3_hd

The new family does okay, but as the supposed final family that Tobi will terrorize they aren’t the best family the series has had, nor does it serve any real purpose to the overall series. Murray’s Ryan as the father figure and puzzle solver of everything is protective of his daughter, but doesn’t really stand out too much. Shaw’s Emily doesn’t really do anything until the finale but by then it’s too late. Gill’s Mike has one of the best lines of the movie, but comes off as obnoxious the rest of the time. Dudley’s Skyler has her moments, but is underutilized like Shaw. Ivy George’s Leila is equal parts innocent, adorable, and creepy as hell, so she actually is arguably the best part of the movie.

Nothing against the new cast, but if this was going to be the last installment of the series, I had hoped the family would have more of connection to the overall mythology the series was creating. In fact, The Ghost Dimension essentially ignores the last film and feels like a direct sequel to Paranormal Activity 3, the prequel. That to me, besides the overall movie, is the biggest disappoint of the film. Even the connections the film makes to the past films are only mentioned in passing or just lackluster. For the final film in a series, it certainly doesn’t do much to tie up loose ends. Even the answers we were promised felt clucky, rushed, and unsatisfying. Hell, with a series like this, they could have kept going for another year or two, but stop while you’re ahead right? Or, in this case, stop when they start getting crappy.

MV5BMTUzMTM1MjIyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTIzMzcwNjE@._V1__SX1217_SY581_

There are some moments where I though the film was going somewhere, but it just ended up cutting everything at the knees and those brief moments of potential go nowhere. Even the concept of the special camera is done well at first and could have been something awesome and fresh and a good way to go, but they completely dropped the ball. Even the finale is a little more over chaotic for my liking and for the series, but it makes a tad sense. Doesn’t mean it should’ve been done.

All in all, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is a lackluster and disappointing end to the potential end of the series. Having been a fan of the series since the beginning I saw the ups and downs, and unfortunately this is a massive let down of could have been a potentially good – or at least descent – ending.

 

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

2.5 out of 5

‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ Review

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/Paranormal-Activity-The-Marked-Ones-Poster.jpg

Dir:  Christopher Landon

Cast: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh, Carlos Pratts and Renee Victor

Synopsis: Jessie begins experiencing a number of disturbing and unexplainable things after the death of his neighbor. As he investigates, it isn’t long before Jessie finds he’s been marked for possession by a malevolent demonic entity, and it’s only a matter of time before he is completely under its control.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a non-spoiler as always.*

 

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is being described as a “spinoff” of Paranormal Activity series. This is somewhat true, in that this is the first film to not center around Kristi or Katie’s family (Paranormal Activity 4 ultimately did tie in at the end).  However, I’ll get to it later but needless to say the movie opens up a whole new can of worms.

The Marked Ones centers on high school graduate Jesse (Jacobs) and his friends Hector (Diaz) and Marisol (Walsh).  Jesse, like every main character of the series, gets a new camera that he and Hector use any time they can get.  However, when a woman that everyone calls a witch and lives under Jesse dies, Jesse and Hector decide to do of course the horror movie cliché and go check out the dead woman’s apartment.  When there they discover that she was indeed up to some very strange things and even find a picture of Jesse in front of a alter.  After finding that Jesse finds himself changing and displaying what appears to be superhuman abilities.  Soon he starts to become unwelcoming and violent.

Director Christopher B. Landon, who has written all of the Paranormal sequels, does a strong job of establishing this new group of characters and Jacobs and Diaz are a likable duo, establishing a strong friendship between the two (Walsh is good, but her character doesn’t really do much).  Landon brings in more of a sense of humor than other films in this series, thanks to the early scenes of Jesse and Hector running around, having a good time.  There’s also some moments that echo Chronicle, as Jesse experiments with his “powers,” and it’s a fun mixture to have those sort of scenes intersect with the Paranormal Activity universe – and to even set up a funny bit about YouTube comments.

The series has perfected the art of the sudden, shocking thing happening during a seemingly quiet moment, which continues here.  As Jesse’s journey continues, we get some suitably creepy things going on.  The special effects are also featured a little more here than the other series but with the low budget the effects add to the jumps.

The movie does have its weak moments of course.  The movie suffers from what almost all found footage movies do, the dialogue.  In this movie it’s mostly the last half of the movie when Hector starts to notice Jesse acting differently. His pleas for Jesse to open up and tell him what’s wrong seems a bit forced but considering everybody’s problem with found footage movies is WHY THE HELL ARE THEY STILL RECORDING? I think the dialogue is the last thing on people’s mind.  But with that said, the movie adds in that sense of realism between the main characters so when that kind of stuff happens, you can almost forgive it.

Now, what did I mean when I said Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is being described as a “spinoff” of Paranormal Activity series and is somewhat true?  Well, when Jesse and his friends go into the dead woman’s apartment they discover VHS tapes marked “Katie and Kristi, 1988.” Also, there is a brief appearance from Paranormal Activity 2’s Ali (Molly Ephraim, also not a spoiler since she’s in the marketing), and there’s something else that everyone is talking about (hint: it’s the last act, which also really isn’t a spoiler since that’s starting to become part of the marketing too). But the biggest connection to the original series is the witch aspect.

The witch aspect is also bought out more here and extends the mythology and lore of the series that could be a good or bad thing.  Depending on how they take the idea it should be interesting to see how fans of the series interpret the ending.

All in all, fans or non fans of the Paranormal Activity series should have a lot of fun with The Marked Ones.  There is a lot of jump scares that the series in known and famous for and it creepy when it needs to be.  The series also gets a bit of a shot-in-the-arm, so let’s hope that Paranormal Activity 5 can continue the momentum.

 

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

3.5 out of 5

 

P.S:  For those wondering if it’s better than Paranormal Activity 4, the answer is yes.

Worst and Disappointing Movies of 2012

It’s that time of the year folks, where people like me list up their best/favorite movies of the year. But of course we can’t avoid talking about the movies we disliked, hated, or at least for a few movies were disappointed by. Here in this list you’ll be doing the latter. Remember we don’t have to agree and I know I’ll at least piss off one person (maybe).

 

Worst: Chernobyl Diaries

This movie had some things going for it. 1) It was a horror movie that was set in the middle of nowhere in a different country and that place was Prypiat. 2) The atmosphere and 3) It was produced and written by Oren Peli, creator of the Paranormal Activity series (I’m still a fan, expect for part 4).

The movie did have its moments but there came a point where I just didn’t care for any of the characters and by the end it felt almost like a big “F$%K You” to the audience.

 

Disappointing/Worst: Paranormal Activity 4

Hey speaking of Paranormal Activity it’s also on the list. Now, I have always been a supporter of the PA movies and liked that it worked as a horror movie without falling into the typical “gore and nudity” territory. But, at this point I did feel like they were just cashing in on their cow and watching this I knew they no longer have the same drive and heart they had with the first three.

Any sense of the story they tried to tell us was jammed in the last fifteen minutes and wasn’t explained or just said in a quick form of dialogue. Also, nothing really happened, even the few jump scares that the movie is known for (and pretty much what makes them scary) weren’t that good. Let’s just say for the first time in the last two years, I’m not looking forward to the new PA movie.

 

Honorable Mentions: The Aggression Scale and Dragon Eyes

 

 

The “I Have No Idea Where to Put Them” List

Total Recall

I think everybody disliked the idea of Hollywood redoing Total Recall especially when Len Wiseman was attached. Even though the movie did do many things differently from the Arnold version it still was just okay (I use that term very strongly). There was nothing really special about the movie and I felt the best part of the movie was Kate Beckinsale’s character.

 

Snow White and the Huntsman

I think some of you are thinking I put this on my list because I didn’t like the movie. When in fact I actually enjoyed the movie for the most part but there was something about the movie at random times where I couldn’t like it. I felt that the better parts of the movie involved anything with the Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth (nothing against Stewart, I don’t hate her as much as other people).

Possibility the best parts of the movie were the visuals that looked amazing with the gritty dark tone of the movie.

 

The Hunger Games

Now, this is one will definitely tick out a lot of people off but before you write something like “oh you just think it’s another Twilight” and to that I say NO. I’ve read the Collin’s books and liked them and with that said the movie captured, at least for me, only some of the strong moments from the book.

I, despite like a lot of people, actually liked that Jennifer Lawrence played Katniss and she did a good job of capturing the character for the most part. However, again the movie captured only some of the strong moments from the book and lacked on some of the others. I can also accept the fact that they had to change things because some things have to be changed when adapting a book into a movie. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the movie but it wasn’t what I thought it would be.

 

Taken 2

The first Taken took a lot of people by surprise and since then Liam Nesson has become the new action hero. When word got out that another was being made a lot of people were hesitant and thought, rightly so, “what can they do?” Well we found out the answer this year and the answer was…meh.

The idea of the fathers and brothers of the villains from the Taken 1 was pretty cool and to a point it actually worked but the final execution was a mixed bag. Nesson did a good job as always and even Maggie Grace had more to do but the movie failed to be as good as the first. However for me I think what made this movie disappointing was Oliver Megaton’s “direction.”