Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is the final installment of a found footage franchise that has prompted both copy cats and satirists. It follows a demon called Toby as he terrorizes a variety of people who are all wealthy (or at least very, very well off), with the exception of those terrorized in The Marked Ones, and are all in possession of video cameras, surveillance technology, or laptops with awesome webcams. Until this movie, Toby’s motivations (and the motivations of the coven/cult that serves him) have been anyone’s best guess.
I would go into more detail but I don’t care to. Go to this Wiki page if you really want to know more.
To be honest, I only ever have gone to see any of the Paranormal Activity movies for the special effects. I want to see what sort of jump scares they manage to cook up with little to no CGI. We are spoiled by computer-based special effects. Seeing good practical effects is a treat.
(I will never forget that moment in PA2 when all the cabinets popped open while that woman was making tea. For months afterward, the sound of a kettle whistling made me tense up.)
I have never, ever gone for the plot because the plot has never made sense. Six movies is a really long time to take to explain the motivations of a non-corporeal being. In fact, by the third movie, I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to see how they were going to scare the curds-and-whey out of someone.
But, at first, I was pleasantly surprised by Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. (Emphasis on “at first”.)
One, everyone got on board with the idea of a haunting fairly quickly. I think the ghost photography camera thing really helped with that and was an interesting new twist besides. At any rate, it was really refreshing to not have to deal with several “this isn’t a haunting, this is kids being weird” arguments. There was only one and it was believable.
Two, I like that no one tried to provoke the spirit. When it went from interesting to menacing, no one challenged it like a moron (looking at you, Misha).
Three, they called a priest. The wife and mother (whose name has completely slipped my mind) is a religious woman. No, let me rephrase that. She is a Catholic with a few religious things but she’s not religious enough to actually raise her child in the Faith. If she had been, none of this would have happened. She apparently doesn’t go to church, though, because when they got around to calling a priest, she had to bring out the phone book. But at least she called and that’s good enough for me.
Four, the priest was a nice man who genuinely wanted to help the family. I am so sick of the stereotypical churchman who is either out for money, sex, power, or a combination of the three.
And, finally, the special effects were really good. I was worried that finally getting to see Toby would lesson the fear but it actually heightened it.
I normally keep my Faith to myself on here because I am not a Catholic writer. I am a Catholic woman who writes. While my moral views are sometimes reflected in my writing like they would be with any writer, you’ll never see my books stocked at LifeWay or St. Whatsits Bookstore. I do not write for a religious audience (yet).
Today, though, I am making an exception.
No priest would ever, ever go outside the Church unless he was some sort of heretic. Why? Because the Catholic Church has been dealing with possession, demonic infestations, and the like for around 2,000 years now. It knows what it’s doing. It is also required for every Catholic diocese to have at least one exorcist. If this priest didn’t know what to do, all he had to do was call his diocesan exorcist, who probably would have come out to handle the problem.
The priest also did none of the things a priest would normally do in this situation, whether he was an exorcist or not. He didn’t bless the home, which can involve ordering all evil entities to leave. He didn’t ask that everyone in the home who wasn’t baptized be baptized and begin attending church, especially the little girl who was the target of the demon. He did not insist that crucifixes be placed in every room or that the weird stuff the girl drew on her wall be immediately removed.
For a Catholic who actually knows something about her religion, this stretched credulity nigh on to the breaking point.
After saying he had to go outside the Church, the priest explained they had to exterminate the demon, which is impossible because that’s not how demons work, but that’s a rant for another time and place.
Then two things happened that utterly ruined the movie for me. If you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read beyond this point.
I mean it.
I am going to spoil the crap out of this movie.
You’re still with me? Okay.
Research that hadn’t been mentioned before now suddenly appears in the father’s office (I think his name was Ryder or Ryan or something). Somehow, this man made a connection between Toby and the figure mentioned in Revelation 5:6. He realized that this coven was a group of women bringing demons into physical form who would taint the blood of the Lamb even while saying Toby was the “lamb that has been slain”.
(As you can tell, I didn’t follow the explanation very well.)
This is Revelation 5:6 (Revised Standard Version): “And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth…”
The Lamb is Jesus Christ. The imagery sounds nightmarish but it’s really not. The combination of horns and eyes with the number seven indicate a being who is all-powerful and all-seeing.
To compare a demon with Christ or to even suggest that the Lamb described in Revelation is a demon is extremely offensive to me as a Christian. As a storyteller, it’s offensive in that it’s obvious no real research was done. At all.
It’s like the writers said, “Okay, we want to hint at the end of the world. What’s the most well-known apocalyptic literature out there? The Book of Revelation, right? Well, lets pick out the first freaky image we come across and say that’s what Toby is supposed to be.”
And you can’t “taint” the blood Christ shed. That’s not even remotely possible. Maybe to someone who isn’t Christian or doesn’t know anything about Christian theology, this sounds plausible, but to someone who actually knows something, it’s confusing and sounds stupid.
The second thing that ruined the movie was the ending. I am so very sick and tired of horror movies that end with the evil triumphing and everyone dying. It reflects the cynicism and nihilism of Hollywood and our culture in general and I hate it. And the fact that this is the last movie means that the writers are pretty much saying, “No matter what you try to do, no matter what you believe, no matter how much you might love and sacrifice, this world is going to end in a bad way.”
I hate that.
When the Husband and I went to see Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, we went to a matinee showing at a discount theater, so we only paid $10 for the two of us. Which is great because I would have been really pissed otherwise.
Don’t go see it. It’s stupid and cynical and full of cliches. The effects are great but don’t make up for the shoddy plotline. Save your money for Star Wars or rent something decent. If you really want to be terrified, go watch a Donald Trump speech.