Matt Donato: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Listen. I don’t proclaim the Paranormal Activity franchise to be perfect, or consistant, or even ratioed towards freshness. Oren Peli’s original Paranormal Activity scared me senseless (in theaters), 2 followed suit and The Marked Ones injected a boost of energy. The rest are all “meh” to “snooze”, but I’m here to crown The Ghost Dimension my most profound cinematic disappointment. A film tasked with wrapping up one of this generation’s most popular horror franchises; a juggernaut of jump scares and nighttime terrorization. Wavering fans like myself had endured plenty and deserved answers. And you know what Gregory Plotkin’s movie gave us?

NOTHING. An empty, steaming plate of open-ended bullshit slapped in our face.

The film itself is a horrendous amalgamation of found footage generics and undistinguishable camerawork. Parents believe a dark presence inhabits their home, which is correct because Toby’s back in town. We’d so far seen canon witches, time-hopping, monsters – a kitchen sink of satanic vagueness – but maybe 1% assertively plays into a young girl’s interaction with Toby. Five writers were required to speed through Paranormal Activity’s exposition and wrap the franchise on a wholly throwaway, vindictively unfulfilling final shot of complete dead air. None of them should be forgiven.

I’ve never been so invested in a film franchise that doesn’t even have the gall to attempt hard-earned payoffs. Webs of connective ties snipped and left hanging. A demonic force six films in the making still displayed in cloud form, able to escape any parting glances. Katie’s family, hours of pre-build, recycled character mapping…if I could go back in time, I would have stopped after sequel one. Films like Paranormal Activity 4 aren’t worth the offensive display of audience disrespect at the end of this interdimensional vortex.

Disappointment, thy touch is cold and unforgiving.

Ben Pearson: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The year was 2008. I was a 23-year-old man in a theater wearing a homemade Indiana Jones costume, looking like a kid whose forgetful parents threw something together for him at the last minute on Halloween. The movie was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I walked in with hope, and walked out totally deflated.

There was no Star Wars: Episode I-level delusion that what I’d seen might have actually been good. I knew it was rotten as the scenes unspooled before my eyes. A nuked fridge. Mutt Williams swinging through the jungle on perfectly placed vines alongside a pack of monkeys. A swarm of CG ants. And aliens…so many aliens.

Growing up, Indiana Jones was my Star Wars. Raiders and Last Crusade are two of my favorite movies of all time. This was the first time we were going to see Indy in action since 1989! I was HYPED. But it was 2008. I was little more than a naive child, one who couldn’t foresee that the economy was about to collapse, or that I was capable of feeling such profound disappointment in Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford. Here’s hoping they all turn it around in 2020, but I’ve learned my lesson. I’m going in with low expectations next time.

Ethan Anderton: Spider-Man 3

I can’t remember a time when I was so excited to see a movie and ended up completely turning on it in the middle of watching it, knowing this was something that I hated so much that I started laughing at it.

After loving the first two Spider-Man movies Sam Raimi directed, it felt like a no-brainer that Spider-Man 3 would knock it out of the park, especially with the introduction of Venom. Even the casting of Topher Grace as Eddie Brock (and eventually Venom) didn’t turn me off because he felt like a great counter to Tobey Maguire’s take on Peter Parker. The teaser footage that played Comic-Con preceding the film’s release had me pumped beyond belief. Plus, Thomas Haden Church was at the top of his game after a recent comeback on the big screen. What could go wrong? It turns out everything.

Not only is Spider-Man 3 convoluted as hell, it’s just plain goofy and dumb. From the way the symbiote turns Peter Parker into a jazz-loving Hot Topic employee to the positively weird turn that James Franco’s performance takes after his head injury, there’s just so much weirdness in this movie that it feels like Sam Raimi was trying to sabotage it (any many believe he kinda did). Before this movie was over, my friends and I were laughing at this movie, and even though it provided us with endless entertainment afterwards, it was still a massive disappointment.

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