I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Editor
The common theme you’ll notice with both THE LAST WITCH HUNTER and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION is you go in with low expectations. This is the sixth film in the franchise for PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, while the other is a movie about witch hunting starring Vin Diesel. However, we go in with the hope that they’ll surprise us and wind up being something actually fun. Perhaps we will find them to be tasty junk-food style of films. The kind that don’t win awards, deserve high critic scores, and just tell amusing stories for the next hour and a half.
For both films, they shockingly setup up something interesting and compelling. THE LAST WITCH HUNTER takes on this serious tone within the first 20 minutes that has you going, “Hmm. Maybe this will actually be worth my time,” while THE GHOST DIMENSION establishes this stupid-comedy that actually works– if you ignore the sloppy acting.
When it comes to genre films like this it’s important to check your critic-cap at the door. You know going in that it’s going to have problems, whether it’s logistics or things that flat-out insult your intelligence. And let me say, there’s a lot of that going around in both features.
Although, as expected, what starts off not too bad ends poorly for both. THE LAST WITCH HUNTER has twists and turns along the way in terms of story and character, yet audiences can spot them a mile away. So, while it ends the way it does and goes where it does, it’s still a film you can stick on in the background on a rainy day (like today) when it hits On-Demand platforms.
THE GHOST DIMENSION, on the other hand, adds nothing new to the franchise. In fact, the best thing about it is it’s over and it finished what it set out to do.
The first three parts of franchise were not too bad, with the first chapter, obviously, being the best– mainly due to the fact that it took us by surprise and showed us that good films can be made on a dime and they don’t need star power. Simple is effective.
The biggest problem with the latter half of the franchise is it tries to do too much. What started as an uncomplicated story of ghosts and demon-latching turned to witches, cults, and time jumping. It really is something out of AMERICAN HORROR STORY where it’s just a melting pot of horror sub-genres.
THE GHOST DIMENSION stirs all these elements up but doesn’t know when to take it out of the oven, and let’s just say, it should have been long ago.
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION are both playing in theaters nationwide today, just in time for Halloween. If you’re insistent on going to one of these and are feeling something more fun, action-y and stupid, THE LAST WITCH HUNTER is the way to go. If you’re wanting to see how the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise ends, need some cheap jump-scares and something even more stupid, then THE GHOST DIMENSION is your film. Just know, really, both will leave you disappointed in the end and with less money in your pocket; however, they’ll also leave you laughing from their absurdity in the company of good people. So, there’s that.
Trailer for THE LAST WITCH HUNTER:
Trailer for PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION: