Paranormal Activity, created on a shoestring budget of $15,000, made a massive splash when it first landed in the late noughties. For writer-director Oren Peli, home was where the horror was … literally. As in, his suburban San Diego home, which is where the film was shot in a seven-day sprint in 2006 with a crew of three. Now nearly a decade and five additional films later, we have the supposed conclusion of shaky camera movements and with it the franchise … and Peli only gets producer credits. Making his directorial debut is Gregory Plotkin, who served as editor for the past four movies in the series.
In Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, we follow a family – a father (Chris J. Murray), a mother (Brit Shaw) and their young daughter (Ivy George) – who live in a lovely house that is haunted. Well, more specifically, the daughter is in cahoots with the spirit world. That is what Murray and his brother (Dan Gill) find after putting up Christmas lights in the front yard of the home and discovering an old video camera and a collection of tapes. Gill decides to shoot some new footage and with it comes more than a few distorted images that point to an unidentifiable force. When the two lads decide to run the pre-labelled tapes what they unearth is creepy to say the least. Many of these date back more than 20 years and a girl on that tape appears to be being coached, encouraged even, to give herself over to a supernatural being. Next thing you know, she is alluding to Murray and brother Gill in the here and now. If that isn’t enough to give them the heebie-jeebies, they set up surveillance inside the house to try to figure out just what is going on. In short, young daughter George is no longer the daughter her parents knew because the devil appears to have gotten hold of her. And as a priest later tells them, leaving home won’t solve their problems.
I enjoyed the naturalness of the interaction between family members, which makes it look like any other middle class family going about its business. They’re a good-looking bunch too. Of course, the whole idea is to establish normality and then throw it on its head with things that go bump in the night.
You don’t have to have seen the previous instalments of Paranormal Activity to make sense of what is going on, although it does reference previous instalments and characters quite liberally. Obviously aficionados have been hanging out for answers to the previously unexplained and you can piece together elements. There are a few jump-out-of-your-seat moments, but for most part the thrills are relatively tame, even though the stakes are raised as the demonic presence intensifies. Some of the visual effects – in particular the tunnelling from the little girl’s room – are most effective.
Rated M, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension gives a decent account of itself without breaking any new ground within the genre and scores a 6 to 6½ out of 10.
Director: Gregory Plotkin
Cast: Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George and Dan Gill
Release Date: 22 October 2015
Rated: MA 15+
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television