Directed by Brian Higgins
A few years ago, Brian Higgins, an architect, was looking for a house to invest in. He couldn’t resist the Croke-Patterson Mansion in Denver, Colorado. It was an amazing building. Huge, with stunning architecture, and most importantly, it was a steal.
Being a shrewd businessman, Higgins invested in the property, despite the fact that the reason the house was so inexpensive was because of its rumored history of being haunted. When Higgins and his crew of contractors began experiencing paranormal events of their own, he decided the best idea was to spend a couple weeks in the house on his own and record everything that happened. That’s right, The Castle Project is a real-life, documentary version of Paranormal Activity.
The film is basically a video diary of Higgins’ experiences within the Croke-Patterson Mansion for two weeks interspersed with lots of additional information on the house and interviews with people who have had strange experiences there. Several previous owners were interviewed, and all of them had some kind of ghost story to tell. Also, many of the contractors who were working on the renovations of the house spoke on film about seeing strange things or having weird experiences.
Unfortunately much of the side information is very dry and doesn’t do a good job holding the audience’s interest. A history of the owners, Thomas Croke and Thomas Patterson, as well as the Sudan Family, makes for some dry viewing. When we’re seeing real-life people being interviewed about things that happened to them in the house, the film succeeds, but there is just so much extra slow-moving information that bogs The Castle Project down. The filmmakers did indeed need something to fill time and flesh out the movie, and a history lesson on the property makes sense. It is just dull.
Also, as Higgins spends night after night in the house by himself, he muses to the camera about all types of subjects, including why society is intrigued by ghosts, Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, and detailing some finds within the house. All this random conversing with the camera becomes old quickly. And, in all honesty, not a lot goes on while Higgins is in the house for the two weeks. Yes, there is a pretty hilarious scene where a bat gets into his bedroom and he has to get it out. But other than that, this is more of a history lesson on the Croke-Patterson Mansion than anything else.
Higgins does manage to capture one creepy image, and there are some pretty impressive audio recordings of the alleged spirits that are certainly intriguing. But you won’t find any earth-shattering discovery here. Unfortunately, after Higgins decides he doesn’t want to stay in the house any longer because of the lack of smoke detectors in the building (Aren’t they like $10 each? Come on, Higgins, the mansion was about 5,000 square feet; spring for a smoke alarm!), the film really goes to Planet Weird. Once Higgins starts to give some of his theories as to where the spirits might be coming from, including an in-depth discussion on the aforementioned Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, The Castle Project had me checking out as a viewer.
The Castle Project is an intriguing film for those who are into paranormal investigation. The movie is at its best when it’s getting testimony from witnesses (most notably, charismatic contractor Rob Harding) and drags when Higgins begins to rattle on.
Overall, The Castle Project is a mildly interesting take on a potentially haunted location. Unfortunately, there isn’t much audio or video evidence of paranormal activity to show so the rest of the 75-minute run time had to be loaded with fluff, and that’s just what it feels like. I was initially greatly intrigued by what I was watching, but once the film gets about halfway through and you realize not much has happened and the possibility for something to happen is fading fast, it becomes a bit of a drudge.
1 1/2 out of 5