Starring Oliver Rayon, Amanda Barton, Derrek Scott, Chelsea Vincent
Directed by Matthew Bolton
Distributed by Arrow Films
Yet another “found footage” cash-in stinks up DVD shelves in the form of Matthew Bolton’s The Paranormal Incident. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A group of young twenty-somethings undertake a student project in the paranormal by rigging up an abandoned mental asylum with cameras, microphones and motion sensors, and spending a few nights documenting their experiences in the hope of catching evidence of ghostly phenomenon. Of course, the place really is haunted, and one by one they’re picked off by the malevolent spirits and disappear into the bleak halls.
Lots of bickering, shaky camera work, running and screaming and little to no plot outside of “a bunch of people with cameras trying to escape from ghosts” all tick the boxes in this tediously by-the-numbers effort. Throwing a little something different into the mix is a wraparound of sorts, involving sole survivor John (Rayon) waking up four days later in the hospital. As he is interrogated on the matter by a mysterious investigator (Barton), the pair make their way through the various recordings from those fateful few days before a ridiculously underdeveloped final twist shows up only to serve as testament to how unbelievably half-baked the entire affair really is.
Flashes of ghostly presences and EVP recordings aren’t nearly as creepy as the film seems to think they are, and every single death scene lacks impact, being either poorly staged or rendered almost incoherent by chaotic editing. Most damning overall, though, is the total lack of effort applied to making the story here in any way unique whatsoever – we’ve seen this a hundred times before already, and we’ve seen it a hundred times better. You know exactly what happens – hallways become mazes, doors become brick walls, and people are roughly flung into the darkness at every opportunity by the rampaging spirits. The flick serves absolutely no purpose save perhaps being re-titled Grave Encounters With Some Paranormal Activity and shoved on shelves to make a quick easy buck.
…Which is a shame, as the young actors in play here really seem to be giving it their all and actually do a pretty fine job with the pathetic material they’re forced to meander through. How any of them could keep a straight face going through repeated scenes of arguing about searching for an exit when the location of their internal base camp is literally surrounded by unprotected windows remains a mystery. The Paranormal Incident is a slow, dumb, turgid mess of a horror film and deserves absolutely none of your time. If you really must get a fix in the same vein, just watch Grave Encounters again.
Arrow Films’ UK DVD release of The Paranormal Incident sports only the trailer as a special feature, which is quite a good thing as it means the disc can be out of the player that much sooner and put to something of more use – like, I don’t know, a reflective ornament to scare cats out of your garden. Or something.
1/2 out of 5
1/2 out of 5