‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ movie review: sixth entry sinks the franchise


After five Paranormal Activity movies, the producers probably figure they gotta shake things up. Previous entry The Marked Ones gave the proceedings a Latino spin but ended up patronizing its audience. The Ghost Dimension messes with the series’ core concept and turns into an even bigger disaster.

In the first Paranormal Activity, a couple who fear their house is haunted record their activity with a series of security cameras. At one point, the characters (and the audience) watch the footage and see a Ouija board seemingly move by itself. Spooky stuff.

But what if we could see exactly what was moving that Ouija board? What if we watched that footage and saw a CGI cartoon character saunter around the room and casually move shit around. Welcome… to The Ghost Dimension!

Yes, in Paranormal Activity 6 (5?), the characters discover a haunted camera and a box of creepy VHS tapes in their new home. That camera can pick up ‘ghosts’ on film, which initially look like ash floating in the ether, and soon become mounds of flowing animated black goo, like the stuff from Prometheus or the alien symbiote in Spider-Man.

In short – it ain’t scary. The Ghost Dimension takes the usual formula – quiet, quiet, quiet… boo! – with the added twist of the boo! moment being a glob of CGI goo. Halfway through the film, the characters have photographic evidence of this flowing-tar ghost creeping out next to their daughter’s bed, but never attempt to show it to the police, the media, or even upload it to YouTube.

Meh. Better to stick around in the haunted house and let this footage be found.

The characters here include married couple Ryan and Emily Fleege (played by Chris J. Murray and Brit Shaw), their young daughter Leila (Ivy George), Ryan’s brother Mike (Dan Gill), and Skyler (The Vatican Tapes’ Olivia Taylor Dudley), whose connection to the family slipped by me.

It’s Christmastime, for some reason, and the setting is criminally underused; no Leila asking the ghost if he’s Santa Claus, no classic Christmas tunes re-purposed for creepy atmosphere, just a Christmas tree and some light décor to give the set designer an excuse to have something to do. There is one of those Wal-Mart snowmen that bursts into song at the most inappropriate of times.

When Ryan and Mike find that ghostly camera (complete with a spooky extra lens), they soon discover they can see the ghost dimension through its default settings. This leads to lots of ghosts captured on film, and lots of characters dismissing them for reasons of genre formula. “Honey, look at this clearly-visible ghost I’ve caught on camera!” “Oh, dear, not that again…”

The family also finds a box of videotapes which attempt to tie in this film to previous entries in the series. In them, the young sisters from the previous films (specifically Part 3) are seen trying to reach another dimension. The family deduces that these girls have been missing, but never turn this evidence in to the police, either.  

In these 25-year-old tapes, the girls seem to be describing the room Ryan and Mike are in while watching them. When Ryan’s daughter sneezes, one of the girls says “God bless you.” Neat trick. It doesn’t add up to anything, but it’s the best bit in the film.

The rest of Ghost Dimension is the same old stuff, complete with a possession and a priest and plenty of those quiet-quiet-quiet… boo! moments. But they’re completely ineffective because we can see the damn ghosts, and they look ridiculous.

The first movie was no classic, but it was effective for what it was and made $100 million in the US off of a reported $8,000 budget. The third film in the series was genuinely scary, and the best of the lot. You can skip the rest of the films, and especially this lame Ghost Dimension.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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