Is the addition of 3D enough to liven up the sixth instalment of this found footage franchise?
Cast your mind back to 2007 and the release of Paranormal Activity, with the success that it received from audiences and critics alike.Now fast forward 8 years later and we have reached the fifth instalment, sixth if you include spin off The Marked Ones, in this now very exhausted and formulaic franchise. Set in 2013, we are introduced to a young family, the Fleeges - there's Ryan, his wife Emily and their daughter Leila. They are getting ready to celebrate their first Christmas together in their new house and, given the nature of these films, are obviously set on documenting every single moment of it. The tree is up, the lights have been strung and everyone is brimming with festive cheer. But of course, something is bound to throw a spanner in the works, and this spanner comes in the form of an old video recorder and box of old tapes that mysteriously appears.Of course father Ryan (Chris Murray) has an unexplained obsession with cameras and video technology so is very excited to discover that this oversized camcorder has been modified and customised to pick up certain frequencies. Ryan and Mike (Dan Gill), his brother who’s come to stay for Christmas, start messing about with the camera and begin picking up some form of interference within the house. Intrigued, Ryan starts going through and watching the old home movies, which he discovers are from 1988 and feature two sisters, Katie and Kristi. The more Ryan and Mike watch the old tapes and play about with the camcorder, the more they realise that something isn’t quite right with Leila (Ivy George).
Leila's behaviour and personality start to change but skeptic wife Emily (Brit Shaw) doesn’t think anything out of the ordinary is going on. However to placate her husband she agrees to let him set up cameras throughout the house to make sure that any bizarre activity is caught. Whilst Ryan is obsessing over the videos and camcorders, his daughter Leila is busy talking to her new imaginary friend… and if you’ve seen any of the previous films, you can probably guess where it’s going.
There is little to nothing new or spectacular about this latest addition to the Paranormal Activity franchise. The characters are disposable and only there to enable the story line of the paranormal activity within the house to progress. Overall you should expect a lot of stupidity from the characters as common sense seems to have gone out the window. There is a slight comedic element from Mike's character, who is quite amusing in mocking his brothers obsession with the camera and the strange noises emanating from within the house, which does add some light relief.
Allegedly the last in the franchise, it seems like the filmmakers have finally realised the same story can only be told so many times.
Visually the film follows the same structure as the previous films; showing the weird goings ons over a series of nights followed by the characters reactions (or lack there of) during the next day, nothing new there. However, this time the makers have decided to use 3D to give this film an edge. The use of 3D is subtle and only used when we are seeing through the old camcorder. In this sense it doesn’t hugely detract from the ‘found footage’ genre, as the customised camcorder is supposed to be able to see things the naked eye or regular camcorder can’t. But much like the previous films, you find yourself looking into an empty frame trying desperately to find the tiniest sign of disturbance, although granted this time round there are more obvious moments of activity, which sadly culminate in a terrible CGI mock-up of something you might expect from Ghostbusters.
This latest instalment tries to tie-up some of the loose ends from the previous films, which it almost does, but at the same time creates new questions that seem to be left unanswered. The interaction between the events that took place in 1988 and what is currently happening in the present house is done quite well and manages to link the two stories together. Like the rest of the Paranormal Activity films this one is also a slow burner and condenses all the action in the last act of the film. The Ghost Dimension packs all the jumps and scares any horror fan would be able to predict and, allegedly the last in the franchise, it seems like they have finally realised the same story can only be told so many times.
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