First time writer and director Matthew Bolton take the helm of the found footage film Paranormal Incident, he is not inexperienced to the entire film making process, having performed every conceivable position possible, such as cinematographer, special effects, and production manager. The downside, is the choice of rolling out another found footage concept while, titling oneself as the writer of the movie, which never clearly makes any sense, why is an author needed for the production. The absent of narrative horror movies does need to return to uplift the quality of the genre, and step back from the paranormal realm. There are proper ways to create the suspension of disbelief in the genre, but the effort needs to temper the production, what occurs currently the floodgates open for an onslaught of cheap versions to establish oneself in the market and list the name under the banner of director.
A group of six college students team up to venture into the halls of the infamous Odenbrook Sanitarium, supposedly closed after a mass suicide occurred sixty years ago, lifting a bit from House on Haunted Hill , but in the grouping believers and non-believers in the paranormal, all armed with cameras. The intended goal is to prove the existence of ghosts and this happens to have best chance for everyone to get an ‘A’, sounding familiar, the opportunity to become media stars for the discovery. Once past the meager and weak security, the group wanders about, not listening to instructions and venturing with minor shocks to set the tone. Now, a prank occurs early on with John (Oliver Rayon (Super Shark )) who is best friends with Tess (Sabrina Villalobos) locks the exit, after everyone enters. The audience learns quickly with refresher course on the tools of ghost hunting, by now everyone is truly an expert, and with a quick round table, the familiarity comes to fruition understanding the team. It is here the first of many character confusions occurs, for example, the skeptic Samantha (Chelsea Vincent (Sorority Party Massacre )) tries valiantly to encourage contact from the ghosts. The team of Blake (Nadia Underwood (Mirror Image )) and Brennan (Brett Edward) who both have personal agendas, including the tape used for the class project happens to have his latest sexual conquest on it. Then one must not forget Daniel (Derrick Scott), a nice and very likeable individual, who brings a charm to his character and clearly shows his importance to the movie. This red herring will return later in the film for more terrorizing torments. It sounds simple enough, except that John awakens in a hospital bed confined by restraints, and a federal agent, needing him to explain the blood on himself and the footage of the cameras, and hence it switches from the exploration and the telling of occurred. One creepy scene occurs with something playing with Samantha’s hair as she silently sleeps all caught the night vision cameras green haze. Soon enough the ghost hunting starts, and endless typical elements arise from thumps merely accepted as paranormal to maze of hallways once stretching the possibilities disbeliefs. The relationship friction, struggles to provide a genuine feel to each other and the lovebird Blake discovers the sex tape and vanishes from the location and even the film, likely consumed and killed by a specter.
Now, the issues with understanding the continuity with such an aspect with a 60-year-old building having a functioning security monitoring system, that interfaces with the modern gadgetry which was deactivated for many years but works to film the location. This adds to confusion, for the viewer, as John is viewed as seamless and properly edited, with music to cue the light more to be become startled and still have his heart monitor beat normally. One might state it is a nitpicking, but really, it is not, only stating the obvious. The acting struggles at times and terrors ideal for the inexperienced horror fan, yet it holds the attention, accomplishing one of the goals, however the actual team of TAPS on the show Ghost Hunters gives a better performance especially operating the ghost gear. Nevertheless, for a budget of $31,000 the film holds a steady course over the logic sequences and shifts in time between the lock in moments of the hospital versus the bright freedom on the hospital. The camera work is shaky, a nauseating effect, why become adventurous and wearing body and helmet cameras, having the audience see true POV. There is one line of dialogue that presents as the obvious and dumbest stated, “This is the place” never would have thought it on one’s own, the mannerism not sarcastic rather a matter fact, and still gives a shake of the head and rye laugh.
Finding the gems in the found footage market, continues to struggle and with the fans of the horror genre, Paranormal Incident had a few shots for true horror, but the switching back and forth between Tess’ footage and John’s viewing become quickly dull and ruin the opportunities of creating tension and suspense. The main rule in horror films, if you have a stellar location, allow that to the best to frighten the audience, in the real estate market, it’s always, location, location, location, and the with long darkened shadows, distant sounds, all would work far better to explore. The movie has enough juice to entertain on a lonely weeknight, the staying power, you can always check-in and self-commitment.
This review was originally posted Rogue Cinema in December 2015.
- … only this footage remains (UK 2012 DVD release)
- Some things don’t want to be found.
IMDb Rating: 2.8/10
Baron’s Rating: 2.5/10