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Paranormal Activity: The Ghost
Paramount Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/12/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/17/2016
If only the Paranormal Activity series were as exciting as the Paranormal Activity series. When the first film opened in 2009, I was actually intrigued by the hype (I think that participated in the online vote to bring it to my town, although I didn't make it to the theater.) When I did finally see the film, I was disappointed. I begrudgingly watched Paranormal Activity 2 and while the movie didn't blow me away, I was impressed with how it tied into the first film. The series peaked with thethird film, which contained some truly creepy moments. Then, things got really bad with the boring Paranormal Activity 4 and then got worse with the off-shoot Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. This roller-coaster like fluctuation in quality actually surpasses any excitement in the movies themselves. And now, with Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, the series comes to an end, with a whimper.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension opens with the finale of Paranormal Activity 3 and offers some additional footage of the young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Brown) being ushered into the coven known as "The Midwives". The action then moves to 2013, where we meet Ryan (Chris J. Murray), his wife Emily (Brit Shaw), their young daughter Leila (Ivy George), and their nanny...I guess Skyer (Olivia Taylor Dudley). They all live in a hotel which I think we are supposed to believe is a house. It's Christmas time and Ryan's brother Mike (Dan Gill) comes to visit. As the brothers are preparing Christmas decorations, Mike finds an old video camera and some VHS tapes. Ryan gets the camera working again and finds that he can see odd floating particles through the viewfinder. The tapes reveal footage of the young Katie and Kristi being tutored in the ways of the coven. It doesn't take long for strange things to begin happening around the house, as Leila claims that she has a new friend named Toby. As their daughter's behavior becomes stranger, Ryan and Emily search for an answer.
It doesn't take a great leap to say that we keep getting Paranormal Activity sequels because the series makes money and the producers want to see even more money. But, with this sixth entry, it's become very clear that money is the only motivator and no one is truly minding the store. We are obviously looking at a situation where they know that they can producer a low-budget movie and the name on the marquee will draw in a large enough crowd to turn a profit, no matter how bad the movie is. What has brought me to this conclusion? The fact that Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is pitiful excuse for a movie and may actually be worse than Paranormal Activity 4. For as boring as that fourth film was, at least it had that cool night visit dots everywhere effects. There is nothing cool going on in the latest movie.
The movie's biggest sin is that it's simply more of the same. There's a fine line between things the audience is going to expect in a sequel and making the exact same movie over again, and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension walk right into the latter of those two. Again, we have a seemingly normal family, save for the fact that they live in the inn for Newhart, who are menaced by an unseen entity and decide to film their whole lives. Well, that is, after they realize that something is wrong. We never get an explanation for why there is video for the first few scenes. The five (yes, five) people credited with writing this movie make a mild attempt to do some creative things here, but they are stymied by the dumbest and more poorly drawn characters ever. Here's a hint, when you find that your daughter has drawn ancient runes on the wall, you get a Mr. Cleanâ Magic Eraserâ and you wipe it off. And, who the hell is Sklyer? (I know that when I suggested to my wife that we get a nanny who looks like that, it didn't go over very well.) The movie then ups the bad ante by bringing time travel into the mix, which is never a good idea for an underwritten film.
But, if we want to be honest about Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, then we must discuss the film's tagline, "For the first time, you will see the activity." You see, in the first five films, the demon was invisible and we only saw vague outlines. Now, thanks to the old video camera (whose origin is never explained), we can see that the demon looks like what one would find inside of a lava lamp if said substance was black. Who had that in the office pool? Nobody? Six years later and all that they can come up with is black slime? And how about this film's title? The series has made it very clear that the "hauntings" were being perpetrated by demons, not ghosts. So, let’s go ahead and put “ghost” in the title to show that we have no idea what are doing. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension was a chance to really go for broke and close out the series, but instead we get a near trainwreck of a movie which not only answers few questions, but contains no satisfying action. On the one hand, I’m glad that the series is over, but on the other hand, I wish that they would give it one more shot and actually get it right.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension comes close to ripping off Scooby-Doo Where are You! in the finale on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. Of course, we get the standard “found footage” “fuzziness” and blurring of the image, but this has nothing to do with the transfer. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the depth is adequate. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The most notable thing about this track is the subwoofer effects, which range from the low rumble which permeates the film to the wall-shaking effects of the finale. The stereo and surround sound effects are good as well, as they nicely draw attention to sounds occurring off-screen and offer some detailed sounds. This set also contains a Blu-ray 3D where the film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an MVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 31/19 Mbps. Unless I was completely missing something, the 3D effects only occur when the old video camera is used, so the entire film is not in 3D. When the effects do arrive, they offer OK depth, but they are noticeably blurry. Therefore, only some of the movie is in 3D and the scenes where we do get 3D don’t look very good. The audio is the same as that found on the Blu-ray Disc. So, I can’t recommend the Blu-ray 3D.
The Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Blu-ray Disc contains a very small assortment of extras. The Disc contains two "Extended Versions" of the film, one of which contains an "Alternate Ending". This ending, while it still has its issues, is much better than the end of the Theatrical Version. The only other extra is "Lost Footage" which is nine DELETED SCENES which run about 20 minutes. Some of this shows the young Katie and Kristi and feels more like scenes cut from Paranormal Activity 3. The rest is essentially more of the same as what we get in the finished film, save for a scene which is almost creepy that includes...Santa Claus. The Blu-ray 3D contains one additional "Lost" scene entitled "Watching Leila" which runs 2 1/2 minutes.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long