As a long time fan of the 'Paranormal' franchise, I certainly raised my eyebrows at the prospect of Paramount actually announcing the end of the series in the form of the subtitled 'The Ghost Dimension'. The franchise has been dipping in quality over the last few years, but I've been loyal and stuck with it despite being slightly dubious about how all these questions about such an expanded universe would come to an all round solid conclusion. Producer Jason Blum has promised in mulitple interviews that all our questions would be answered and for the first time, we would see the mysterious 'Toby' who's been haunting his way into cinemas for the last six years. Sounds promising right?
Wrong. The film is lazy, inconsistent and actually poses more questions than it does answer any. The plot is strictly formulaic, new family, new house, strange things start happening yadda yadda yadda. The immersive thing that brought fans back was how each film approached the formula in a fresh way, such as a new camera technique or the introduction of a new gizmo/gadget. This year it's the added use of 3D which as the poster and trailer suggests that we will "see the activity". As an obvious cash-in, it shows signs of desperation and laziness rather than help progressing the narrative or expand the mythology the film so heavily relies on for context. But my biggest concern is that the original point of the franchise, and what it made it terrifying, was about what you couldn't see. It was required of the viewer to dig deep into their subconscious and imagine what it could be; hence making it a psychological horror. The problem by revealing the entity (and in a very sloppy fashion), subverts any form of terror aside from a few jump scares. Each 'scare' was predictable and boring, and left me feeling frustrated.
Futhermore, I barely cared about the characters, so when it came to each one getting picked off in a particularly gory manner, I lacked any empathy due to the fact the film felt entirely rushed to get the ending as fast as possible, therefore I had no time to warm to any of the characters or root for them when things got bad. Speaking of which, where was Katie? Katie Featherston has been the only character to appear in all 5 films, so naturally one would assume her role in the finale would be one of great importance, no? Sadly, she is only mentioned in passing as someone who set the family up in their current home. As a fan, I felt insulted and downright angry that the studio ignored her presence when her character has been PIVOTAL in previous films. When the crucial plot points are vaguely explained, again they are glossed over and lead to endless amounts of confusion, and though some moments of the film show promise, they are too few and far between to show coherence or some form of narrative clarity.
The 'ending' of the film lacked the shock factor past entries have served up, aside from a few unsettling moments and endless amounts of bad CGI, and rather than wrap things up for fans as promised, it leaves things open ended, most likely for another sequel. Once the credits started to roll, I simply sighed. Paramount promised to give the fans what they wanted and they simply copped out. The reasonable explantion for this is the franchise was never intended to go this way. It should have stayed the low-budget indie horror flick it once was back in 2009. I stuck with the franchise because it showed promise and kept my attention, but unfortunately the studio and the vast amount of writers/directors were inapt of creating an even, consistently paced and fluid franchise, but kept on going because it fared well at the box office.
Clearly, Paramount never knew what to do with the franchise, and it's all too transparent in the final offering. Predictable, boring and downright lazy at times, this is the final nail in the 'Paranormal Activity' coffin. And as a fan, it truly breaks my heart to say. Shame on you Paramount, go stand in the corner and think about what you did.