The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill (2013)
Directed by Kevin Gates and Michael Bartlett
Filmmakers Kevin Gates and Michael Bartlett made a name for themselves back in 2006 with The Zombie Diaries. The duo returned in 2011 with Zombie Diaries 2, a very troubled production that wears its blemishes on its sleeve. Having had enough of the sequel scene, they sat down with each other to make the movie that they wanted to make instead of what was expected of them. Well, that film is finally here in the form of The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill.
For those unfamiliar with this very haunted location in the UK, St. Mary’s Church dates back to the 15th century in the village of Clophill during the time of The Black Death. The original village was burned to the ground and rebuilt at the bottom of a hill adjacent to the church itself. The churchyard became infamous for being known as a go-to place for grave robbers and body snatchers. Throughout the centuries the site has become known as one of the most haunted and foul places not only in the UK but worldwide. During the Sixties and Seventies the area was frequented by satanists and cultists as the place of choice to hold their black magic rituals, and there’s actual police footage edited into the movie from this time period to convey a greater sense of reality of the things which took place in Clophill. Want to talk about a location just begging to be filmed for a horror movie? Bartlett and Gates have done just that, but making a jump-scare laden typical spooker was not on their agenda.
What we have here is a film that goes against the grain of the typical found footage/haunted location film. Instead it redefines the sub-genre by creating a hybrid between filmmaking and absolute reality. The interviews with people in the film are just that, real interviews with real people. Some of the investigators the filmmaking duo brought along with them had no idea they were being filmed for anything other than a traditional documentary. Nearly everything in the The Paranormal Diaries is the genuine article. Real investigators, using current and actual equipment to try and capture proof of the paranormal. There are some narrative liberties taken to amp up some of the scares and creepiness, but overall nothing ever feels out of the realm of possibility, and everything presented on-screen is based upon actual occurrences. Don’t expect to see any flashes of people wearing white sheets or getting pulled around by some unseen force. This is not that kind of movie. What we have here is a slow-burn creeper that takes its time unnerving you and dragging you directly into the overall experience. In fact just what is real within this flick is completely debatable, and only Bartlett and Gates know for sure.
The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill is a movie that’s definitely not for everyone – it’s for those of you out there with a genuine curiosity of the paranormal and the supernatural, and it’s also for those who can appreciate a good ghost story with deeply laid roots in reality. Suffice it to say that all of the participants in this project – including Gates and Bartlett – got more than they bargained for. A lot more. If looking for truly spine-tingling shivers is something that’s on your agenda, then this is without question your hot ticket!