How Actively Should You See Part 5?
DIRECTED BY GREGORY PLOTKIN/2015
I have defended the Paranormal Activity films in the past, and to different extents, I like the first four installment (and The Marked Ones, which is more of a spin-off). Though derivative enough to not be considered “masterpieces” or “great” or not even that necessarily “good”, I do find an enjoyable calm in the way they are shot, especially when compared to the music-video, attack-mode of most modern-day Hollywood horror films.
So, with a tiny amount of excitement, possibly more than it deserves, I was prepared for the newest entry into the series, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.
And then the film started.
So, let’s start with the first problem. This is barely even a movie. Some producer or exec apparently had the idea of making this one in 3D. Now on one hand, horror does seem to be the genre that lends itself best to 3D. Especially if you have a fun little horror film. But “fun” was never the point of Paranormal Activity. These were the films that had more patience and used the whole screen to its advantage and DID NOT rely on cheap jump scares. However, the whole point of 3D is that protruding jump at the audience. So from the beginning, the film just told the few remaining defenders that they can basically just go screw themselves.
It’s seriously the equivalent of an amusement park ride where things are flying at you from all directions. But on this amusement park ride, imagine the most annoying people sitting next to you. Making the worst jokes. And the dumbest comments.
Which brings us to problem two: the script. Awful. Just awful. You see the actors, but all you can really visualize are all of the parts of this awful piece of writing. Hey, I know, let’s try to relate
these awful balls of flesh and organs to the audience by making hilarious jokes. One of the characters makes two reindeers pose in a sexual position in the front yard. Hilarious! Reindeers having sex! How about two characters eat some chocolate laced with drugs that one of them brought back from Belgium and then get so high they are talking to the TV screen they just filmed. Hilarious! A good sign the jokes aren’t working is that you are trying to figure out how they possibly got that through customs instead of even cracking half a smile at the joke.
I’m obligated to the get to the plot. Let’s keep it simple. It’s about a family who are being terrorized by Toby, the demon from the prior films. The father, Ryan (Chris J. Murray), discovers a weird camera in the house that is unlike any camera made before. Trust me, he researched it (not sure why even the CAMERA HAS TO BE WEIRD!) And along with the camera are a bunch of VHS tapes. So he decides to spend days filming the house with this weird camera, which allows him to see things that can’t be seen with the naked eye, and watch the tapes, which basically recount what we have seen in the first four installments. Then he slowly realizes that the tapes and his recordings are connected and they’re in trouble.
The only moments that could have been good are destroyed by sloppy filmmaking. This incarnation of Toby, since it’s 3D, can’t be subtle movements in the backgrounds. No, it has to this weird stream of blood that floats in the air and comes out of the screen in all glorious 3D manner. Basically, just imagine Johnny Depp’s blood pouring out of the bed into the ceiling in Nightmare on Elm Street, and you get the idea.
There’s also another scene that should have been good but were destroyed by poor writing. One of the characters from 20 years ago they are watching on TV is asked to describe what she sees. She begins describing Ryan and his brother. She’s essentially, somehow, looking into the future. But the whole scene is destroyed by pounding-on-the-head explanations from the characters.
“I think she’s describing us, dude.”
“She just said toys. Look at the toys in the room we are in.”
“She just said she sees two brothers. We’re brothers!!”
So if you liked the first one, but got fed up with the sequels, you will hate this one. If you slowly lost interest in part 4, which was panned pretty hard, you will hate this one. Or if you are a defender in the reprieved style of filming that separates these films from other horror movies today, trust me, you will really hate this one. Basically Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is for no one.