The Bonus Disc:
Back in 2009, the micro-budgeted Paranormal Activity became the most profitable movie of all-time. It then spawned a slew of sequels, most of which made good money as well.
This 2022 “Ultimate Chills Collection” collects all seven Actvity flicks in one place. Though this article covers the series as a whole, I want to concentrate mainly on the package’s final platter, a disc that provides a new documentary called “Unknown Dimension”.
“Unknown Dimension” runs one hour, 34 minutes, 34 seconds. It provides comments from filmmakers Dean Alioto, Eduardo Sanchez, Oren Peli, Colin Minahan, Stuart Ortiz, Tod Williams, Christopher Landon, Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, Gregory Plotkin, and Will Eubank, producers Steven Schneider, Jason Blum, Akiva Goldsman and Joe Bandelli, critic Luke Y Thompson, horror historian Nate Ragon, horror journalist Brian W. Collins, “Dread Central” co-founder Steve Barton, ScreamFest founder Rachel Belofsky, Paramount Senior VP Ashley Brucks, former Paramount president Adam Goodman, director of photography Pedro Luque, unit production manager Jenny Hinkey, and actors Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim, Sprague Grayden, Chris Smith, Lauren Bittner, Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Aiden Lovekamp, Brady Allen, Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh, Renee Victor, Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George, Roland Buck III, Emily Bader, and Dan Lippert.
With “Dimension”, we get a look at the found footage genre and the development of the first Paranormal Activity film. From there we look at aspects of that flick’s production as well as its release/success, the sequels and general thoughts about the franchise.
95 minutes for a documentary about seven movies seems like an insubstantial running time. Of course, the first film gets the lion’s share of the attention, but even then, the semi-abbreviated length of “Unseen” becomes an issue.
We get a decent exploration of the initial movie’s origins and development. However, as noted, that topic doesn’t receive tremendous discussion, so we find basics without a lot of real depth.
Matters don’t improve with the many sequels. “Unseen” dashes through them and fails to give us much in terms of specifics.
I won’t say that this makes “Unseen” a bad documentary, and at least the brisk pace means it never slows or bores. We get a reasonable feel for the different productions and learn enough to keep us engaged.
I appreciate that we find actual criticism of some of the films at times. None of this feels brutal or tremendously frank, but given that programs like this usually deliver lovefests, the presence of negative appraisals seems refreshing.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the part about Next of Kin becomes the least revealing. Without the perspective of time – and also with Paramount’s desire to sell the newest release – we get mostly promotion for that one.
Still, the rest boast moderate objectivity, and I certainly can’t complain about the range of participants. “Unseen” includes a good roster of folks involved with the movies, and that gives the show a nice breadth.
I just wish “Unseen” ran a good twice as long as its 95 minutes. I feel certain that the subject matter could sustain a three-hour exploration, so this documentary feels enjoyable but superficial.
Circa 2009, the enormous success of Paranormal Activity perplexed me, and six sequels/spin-offs later, I still fail to comprehend the appeal. Though the movies vary in quality, they all prove unsatisfying overall. The Blu-rays come with acceptable picture and audio as well as minor bonus materials, though the documentary on this bonus disc adds some value. Fans will probably appreciate the “one-stop shopping” of this seven-movie boxed set, but I won’t want to watch any of the films again.