Well, as the poster brags, in the sixth installment of Paranormal Activity we finally get to see the ghosts that have been responsible for terrorizing families since the first movie. But when you think about it, is that really something to brag about? What made the original Paranormal Activity interesting was the fact that we couldn’t see what was about to happen. Literally every scene was a tension-filled pause in wait for an object to move or a person to get grabbed out of thin air. Now, you know exactly who the ghost is about to attack and when the object is about to move because you can see the spirit. The suspense has now been replaced with gimmicky special effects and confusing tie-ins to previous movies. Let’s get this over with.
Like the previous films, the main character finds some reason to record absolutely everything in an effort to try and seem natural in a found footage genre which has come to feel frankly cliche. Only this time it’s with a big camera the man finds in his attic which somehow possesses the ability to record spirits. He also finds a bunch of tapes which reveal recordings of the little girls from Paranormal Activity 3, (the two sisters that were kidnapped by the cult). While viewing the recordings, it becomes apparent that the girls are interacting with them from 25 years in the past, which in itself doesn’t make any sense, but okay I’ll go along with it.
Just in case the tapes of the little girls doesn’t tie this in to previous films in the franchise enough, the daughter of the main character ends up befriending the spirit haunting them and calling him Toby, (the same imaginary friend/demon the little girls had in Paranormal Activity 3). Then, for some reason the daughter writes “Hunter” on her wall, which was the baby’s name from Paranormal Activity 2. There’s no reasoning behind this aside from an obvious reference to PA2. It’s like they are trying to tie in the movies but don’t know how to do it creatively, so instead we just get random references to previous movies and no explanation as to why. With six movies in the franchise, you’d think the filmmakers would know what they were doing, right?
Well, for those of you that don’t watch the movies to follow the story and instead prefer the experience of jump-scares and suspense, I’m afraid you also will leave feeling disappointed. You see, with no more invisible ghosts, you always know exactly what’s about to happen next. In fact, the only people who don’t know what’s about to happen are the ones not looking through the camera, which doesn’t matter because they are warned by the people holding the magic ghost-finder camera. This brings me to the special effects. I hope you’re not lactose intolerant because I’m about to lay on some cheese. A weird skeleton runs out and tries to kill them, so they attempt to exorcise it with a sheet and some weird funnel that I can only describe as a ghost tornado. This leads to a woman vomiting acid, killing a man, and another guy sprouting a hand from his chest that proceeds to grab him and drag him away. This is considered the climax of the film and amounts to nothing more than a mockery of the original.
Between the confusing story arcs, the bad special effects and the fact that the ghosts are no longer invisible the movie becomes self-defeating, taking away the simplicity that made the first film so successful. I hope they learn from their mistakes and take the next one back to basics. From someone who was a fan of the first film, I sincerely hope the franchise has not become lost in its success and forgotten how to make a scary movie.