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‘Paranormal Activity’ is worst movie of the year

Sixth in series uses typical scare tactics

By Jack Ryan, Senior Staff Writer

The sixth and final entry in the cult classic series, "Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension," is arguably the worst film of the year. An unnecessary follow-up to four equally pointless sequels (all spawned from Hollywood's need to ruin good things), "PA 6" shamelessly repeats the past by beating a nail into a coffin that was buried half a decade ago.

Plot-wise, we all know what's going to happen.

There's going to be an unexpected demon in a seemingly normal house, the child is going to consider it her "imaginary friend" and the parents are going to do a poor job handling the situation. There's no doubt that an exorcism, forced connections to the previous films and an ambiguous ending will all be included, too. It's just rinse and repeat at this point.

What isn't immediately expected of "PA 6" is that it will have an abundance of plot holes, logical fallacies and pointless characters.

As far as acting goes, the actors in "PA 6" are worse than 'horror-movie bad.'

Chris J. Murray and Brit Shaw play Ryan and Emily, the couple at the center of the haunting. Unsurprisingly, they're not so much characters as they are weak outlines with abhorrent chemistry - both as a couple and as parents to their daughter, Leila (Ivy Grace). All possible illusion of family is shattered from the start.

Ryan's brother Mike (Dan Gill) now resides with them due to a break-up, but he's really just the film's outlet for making weak sex and drug jokes. There's also a fourth adult, Skylar (Olivia Taylor Dudley), who is supposedly helping the "feng shui" of the house, but is really only there to balance the male-to-female ratio.

Perhaps the only bearable performance here is by young Ivy George, whose increasingly possessed nature as Liela sometimes feels like she is simply annoyed by the trashy acting around her.

There are some horror movies that had these exact issues and managed to maintain relevancy and status - the fatal flaw of "PA 6" is that it isn't scary in the slightest, but still tries so hard to be frightening.

Not only is "PA 6" not scary in the wide sense of the word, it actually betrays its own ideology in trying and failing to be scary. Instead of the silent static camera of the impressive original that forced the viewer to fear the mundane, "PA 6" feels the need to derive all of its scares from things leaping in front of the always shaking camera.

Although, yes, these sudden startles can catch you off guard (unless you have an invulnerability to ear piercing screams and CGI demons that inexplicably leap into the frame), they are in no way scary. Similarly, no one leaves the theater fearing what they've seen, as the demons are time/space-specific.

The major context of the "Paranormal Activity" series is that we believe the victims of the supernatural are innocent, normal people. This is all thrown away by the sixth film's bizarre cinematography, which suddenly casts cameras into the arms of the main characters and presupposes that they all have an astute understanding of what seems to be high quality technology.

The found footage genre already has a cringe-worthy pedigree in this respect, and "Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension" ranks as the worst.

As a critic, I try not to expand my review past what is shown on screen, but I have to mention how "PA 6" ruins itself in its commercial. Multiple climactic scenes, including about a third of the poor jump scares are shown ahead of time, essentially ruining all reason to go to the theater in the first place.

There are no redeeming qualities about "PA 6" other than the fact that with its close comes the end of a much-tortured series, but even this promise of finality is ruined by the ending, which provides neither closure nor relief.

There is absolutely nothing right about this film, other than the fact that it is, at least temporarily, a coup d'état for a crippled saga.

See you at the reboot.

.5/4 stars