Demon

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

The Fleeges, Ryan (Chris J. Murray) and Emily (Brit Shaw), recently moved into their dream home. While getting decorations out for the holidays, they find a strange video camera from the eighties along with some old tapes. The camera seems to be able to see things that cannot be seen with the naked eye. As the family starts filming their home with this special camera, and as they go through the old tapes, strange things begin to happen in their home. All of the activity seems to be centered around the daughter, Leila (Ivy George). Will the family be able to get rid of the evil in their house before it’s too late?

Before I begin my review of this film, I feel like I need to establish my feelings about the previous films. I absolutely loved Paranormal Activity 1-3. They scared me to death, and each film built upon the mythology more and more. On the other hand, I thought Paranormal Activity 4 was horrible. It was completely pointless, and there were multiple plot holes. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was decent (better than 4). It had a bit more humor than the previous films and it definitely built on the mythology some more. This installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise, while successful on rounding out the series, ended the films on a rather mediocre note.

What made the first three films so intense and terrifying was how the scares were presented. The scares started out very slow and subtle; so subtle that you may have missed something that happened the first time you watched it. The scares became bigger and bigger from there until the horrifying finales. This installment took a slightly different approach. With the use of the special video camera you can see the entity known as “Toby.” He starts out as transparent disturbances seen on the camera, but quickly gains a more opaque form. While it was very interesting to finally get an idea of what the legendary Toby looks like, actually seeing him also kind of ruined the effect. It is much more frightening to be stalked by something you can’t see. I also feel like they dove into the big jump scares too early in the film. The previous films built up the tension much more before using the jump scares. This installment almost entirely skipped building the tension. While the jump scares definitely scared me on multiple occasions, using them as the sole source of frightening viewers does not make a successful film.

The most successful aspect of this film was how it added to the mythology that has been building for 6 films. Warning: if you haven’t seen the previous films, then these might be spoilers. In the previous films we have learned that Toby is a demon (and not a ghost, so why is this film called Ghost Dimension?), a coven of witches called the Midwives orchestrated everything, and Katie and Kristi were chosen to be major parts of the Midwives’ evil plot. This film reveals more information. Not only do we learn more about what happened to Katie and Kristi as children after the third film, but we also learn the ultimate goal of the Midwives. Sequels are pointless unless they add something new to the story and help us to further understand the “why” behind the plot. In this regard, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension did an excellent job.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to the special effects in this film. For the most part, I generally enjoyed the way they showed Toby through the special video camera. I especially loved when they made it look as though he is made out of black liquid. It’s when Toby ends up looking like he is made out of black smoke that they lost me a bit. The filmmakers went from a look that was both stylish and unique to a look you would expect from a hokey ghost movie. They should have stuck with the more liquid look, which was much more original and terrifying than the smoke.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is an entertaining film with lots of good scares. It also had an interesting plot that brought a fitting end to the Paranormal Activity franchise. There is definitely room for improvement. The special effects were used a bit too much, and the film did not have the same intensity of the previous films. It may have been fine as a standalone film, but considering this film is the end of a series of films, it is impossible not to compare it to its predecessors. People who loved the earlier films will likely enjoy the story, but be disappointed that this film rushed into the big scares too quickly so that they almost became mundane by the end of the film.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10

Sinister 2

After the horrific murder of the true crime writer, Ellison Oswalt, and Oswalt’s family, Ex-Deputy So & So decides to pick up the investigation. He begins to follow the pattern in which the Bughuul finds its victims. This pattern leads him to a house that he intended to burn to the ground, only to arrive to find a single mother with her twin boys living in the house. The ex-deputy must race against the clock. If he isn’t able to break the pattern then this unsuspecting family will be doomed.

When the first Sinister film came out, I thought it looked pretty lame. Then I saw it and I had to sleep with the light on that night. After seeing the first trailer for Sinister 2, I got excited, mostly because it looked like they were going to add to the mythology of the Bughuul. It is my personal opinion that horror sequels are pointless unless they add to the mythology of the franchise in some way. While this addition to the franchise did add some to the mythology, it was quite a failure in most other aspects.

The best aspect of this story line was was the investigative side. Learning more about how the Bughuul finds its victims was very interesting, although I do wish they had gone a bit more into the Bughuul’s origins as well (it was only briefly touched on in the first film). Sadly, there wasn’t much else that I liked about the story. The murders of the previous families in this film were kind of ridiculous. It felt like the filmmakers were trying to come up with more elaborate deaths to compete with the first film, but they went way over the top. They just didn’t seem as believable. There were also several aspects of the plot that appeared to just be thrown in and were not relevant to the story (such as a random romantic aspect and an abusive ex-husband).

Another major flaw with this film was that it was not even remotely scary. The first film was terrifying. This installment tried so hard to be scary, but it just fell flat. One major reason for the lack of scares was that everything that was supposed to instill fear was to visible. The creepy kids from the previous murders were out and in your face so often that they were no longer really that creepy. As for the Bughuul, it was much of the same issue. In the first film you only caught glimpses of this evil being. In this film, it seemed like everywhere you look the Bughuul was there. It is Horror Films 101 that the big evil should be primarily in the shadows in order to maintain its fearsome appeal. He popped out so often that you never truly feared seeing the Bughuul, so the general reaction become “Oh, there’s that Bughuul guy again.”

As for the acting, I’d say half the cast did a great job and the other half was a bit lackluster. James Ransone (Sinister, Oldboy) did a great job of reprising his role as the deputy who assisted Oswalt in the first film. What I especially enjoyed was that there was a clear evolution in his character from the first film to the second. He was still quite goofy in both films, but the second film showed Ex-Deputy So & So with a weight on his shoulders and clearly more weary with the knowledge he carries. Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight’s Tale) played the mother who unknowingly moved into a house marked for death. While there was nothing necessarily bad about her acting, she did have a fake Southern accent that was more distracting than it should have been. The twins were played by real-life siblings, Robert Daniel Sloan (Hero of the Day) and Dartanian Sloan (Hick). Robert Daniel played Dylan, the twin who is constantly haunted by the previous victims of the Bughuul. He did a great job of portraying the kinder, seemingly weaker of the twins who really wants nothing to do with the old “home movies.” Dartanian unfortunately was slightly less believable. His character was definitely a bit of a sociopath, which Dartanian portrayed well, but there were many times where it felt like his acting was too exaggerated.

I wouldn’t say this film was horrible. It had the potential to be as good as the first film, but the filmmakers made unfortunate choices that diluted the main story line and overexposed everything that was supposed to be scary. If it wasn’t for Ransone’s part in the film, I probably would tell you this film wasn’t even worth watching, especially since the last 2 minutes of the film left me baffled and very unsatisfied. If you enjoyed his character in the first film, then I would recommend giving Sinister 2 a chance. Just be warned, this film will likely leave you scratching your head and jonesing for the scares that you expected but didn’t get.

OVERALL RATING: 4.5/10

Horns

Poor Ig. He was just a young guy in love until the love of his life, Merrin, was raped and murdered. Now the entire town thinks he was the one who killed her, especially since his love had dumped him that very same night. In his despair, Ig turns his back on God and wakes up one morning to find that he is growing horns. These horns give him some rather interesting powers. The people that look at his horns feel the need to divulge their deepest darkest secrets to Ig, and he can make them do things, and when he touches a person he can see their secrets. The best part is, no one remembers this once they can’t see the horns anymore. Ig uses these new powers to try to find out who murdered his beloved and clear his name.

This was definitely an entertaining film. The story was your basic murder mystery, but they gave it a very interesting twist. Something else that I really enjoyed was the story had flashbacks woven throughout the film. Sometimes movies do this and it gets boring because the flashbacks can be irrelevant to what is going on in the present. Horns did a great job of making sure the flashbacks not only gave your really excellent back story so you better understand the characters, but the flashbacks also were important pieces to help explain what was happening in the present.

When it came to Ig’s power that makes people tell him the truth, he definitely gets some mixed results. Most of the time what people tell him is funny. Things like “I want to burn this place down to get the insurance money” and “I think about this person naked” are the types of humerus secrets usually heard. On the other hand, some of the confessions are far more serious. The scenes where Ig confronts his parents and they confess how they really feel is both very believable and very heartbreaking to watch. It makes the whole situation more realistic in the sense that you could imagine that is what his parents were really thinking but would never speak in a normal situation.

In terms of the effects, there were really only a few important ones to mention. Obviously, the horns themselves were very well done. Even in the beginning when you are watching them grow it looks pretty damn lifelike. There are also several CGI snakes in the later parts of the film. Obviously a lot of the time you can tell they are fake snakes, but there were many times where I couldn’t tell if the snake was real or not (they did use real snakes in certain scenes but even then it was hard to tell the difference). At the climax of the film there are some amazing CGI effects (which I won’t get too much into, I hate spoilers) that are beautifully done.

The one thing that bothered me was the actual mystery part of the film. Now, I am the kind of person that usually figures out the big twist very early on in a movie. That being said, I think most people can figure out who the real murderer is pretty early on without using a lot of brain power. It definitely made the story a little less exciting when Ig is anxiously trying to find the killer, but it was still entertaining watching everything unfold. I would say the bigger mystery isn’t so much who the killer is, but why Merrin broke up with him in the first place. That was also something that I figured out before it was revealed in the story, but it took a lot longer to figure out than who the murderer was.

I would definitely recommend this movie. If the fact that the film stars Harry Potter isn’t enough for you (it was enough for me), then see it because it’s a good story that is not only dark and ominous but also has some hilarity mixed in. It also has some random things that made me enjoy it like the fact that it took place in Washington state and it had great music. Just try not to be too disappointed if you figure out who the killer is pretty quickly. There are plenty of other aspects of the film that make it fun to watch.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10