The folks behind “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” say that the film is the last in the found-footage horror series, and if so, the franchise concludes with more of an afterthought than a finale. While this installment — the sixth, if you include a spinoff — does acknowledge what slim legacy the series might have, it merely retains the qualities of the previous entries without adding much of significance.
A young, affluent California family — Ryan (Chris J. Murray); his wife, Emily (Brit Shaw); and their 6-ish daughter, Leila (Ivy George) — are settling into a sizable new home. It’s Christmastime, and Ryan’s mustachioed, somewhat hapless brother, Mike (Dan Gill), who has just broken up with a girlfriend, is moving in for a while. When Ryan and Mike find a video camera and a cache of old videos left by the previous residents, they unearth a strange history, some of it featuring Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Brown), the young girls haunted by the malevolent and largely unseen wraith Tobi in “Paranormal Activity 3.” Now Tobi is visiting Leila, to her parents’ alarm.
Cue a dark miasma gathering on the ceiling; mysterious writing appearing on Leila’s bedroom wall; and a visit from a priest (Michael Krawic) attempting an “extermination,” he says, “not an exorcism.” The child actor Aiden Lovekamp, from “Paranormal Activity 4,” makes an appearance, but not the appealing Katie Featherston, whose presence enhanced other chapters in the series. Humor and jagged jump cuts, both series staples, are in abundant supply.
Most “Paranormal” installments raise the technology bar a notch higher than their predecessor, often to diminished charm. “Paranormal 4” played with Skype; “The Ghost Dimension” ushers in 3-D, which, aside from floating specter dust, an impalement and tricks with flying furniture, doesn’t bring much to the party. Nor does the plot. But then, the “Paranormal Activity” movies have always been about carnival-ride sensations, the narrative through-line secondary. That’s fortunate, because those seeking closure to what continuity there has been will go home mostly disappointed.
“Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Naughty language and a suggestion of drug use. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes.