Prepare to see what is allegedly the “actual footage” of the supernatural events leading up to the 2008 murder of Samantha Finley. Released against the wishes of the authorities, this D.V.D. proves that nothing human caused Samantha’s death. (IMDB synopsis)
…I should have known what I was getting myself into. There I was, in Poundland, looking for just one horror movie and being unable to find one. If only I hadn’t dropped some change behind the display shelf, I never would have found this dust-covered DVD from Hell. At first, I didn’t want to review it, but then I thought it would be better to warn readers not to be fooled into buying the thing. Now, I’ll get this review started and try not to get so angry that I turn into…
The film begins with a 911 call in which the main character, Thomas, is in tears, saying that ‘it’ killed his mother and his sister. This is followed by a few chunks of text, revealing that after the events of the film we’re about to see, Thomas was arrested for the rape and murder of his sister, as well as the murder of a paranormal investigator (but not the murder of his mother so much) and subsequently committed suicide in prison. And not so much as a spoiler alert! Anyway, Thomas blamed the deaths on a demonic entity. Apparently, the footage used was discovered a year after Thomas’s suicide, which means he went to the trouble of filming it all on several cameras and editing it together, and then he hid it away in the attic, instead of presenting it as part of his defence in court or something. The opening 911 call is also misrepresentative, as ‘it’ never kills his mother; in fact, she outlives Thomas. This is a long way of saying THIS WHOLE PREMISE IS RIDICULOUS.
The film spends several scenes setting up the fact that the family’s afraid of a paranormal entity in the house, and until ‘Mr Psychic Dude’, aka Edgar Lauren, gets back from his holiday, they decide to set up several camcorders around the house, in the hopes of catching said paranormal entity in the act. The closest we get to a name for the PE is ‘Maron’, but I think I’ll call him PE. As you’d expect, PE begins messing with the family in subtle and pointless ways – moving furniture, turning the TV on and off, making nuisance calls – and as time goes on, things get even more ridiculous.
I’m going to admit right now that I haven’t seen the film Paranormal Activity all the way through – I have a problem with seeing a film which has an insane amount of hype attached to its release. But for the most part, Paranormal Activity seems like a well-constructed film with some good scares. Paranormal Entity, on the other hand, is a so-called ‘mockbuster’ from the production company The Asylum, the peeps responsible for Sharknado, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, Transmorphers and similar works. The company are quite upfront about their business model of copying more successful blockbuster films, using a far smaller budget, and I’m afraid that doesn’t sit well with me. I’m all for parody and satire, but not shameless cash-ins, because they have to come out as quickly as possible to capitalise on the success of the filmic predecessor, and that means a lack of thought and care. Just because they’re open about the fact that it’s a cash-in doesn’t make it OK.
But there’s more to it than that. Even if Paranormal Entity was doing something completely original, it still doesn’t work at all. It’s not even ‘so bad it’s good’. The film can’t stand on its woefully inadequate script, meagre effects, lukewarm scares and poor character development. The nicest thing I can say about this film is that most of the shots are framed to an acceptable standard.
For the first few nights, the PE smashes a few glasses, opens some drawers, messes with the TV and flings a cross off the sister, Samantha’s bedroom wall. Then I suppose it has better things to do for a few nights, as it doesn’t return until Night Five, when the mother sleepwalks into the living room and writes ‘Maron’ on a piece of paper/the coffee table. Thomas is spooked by this, claiming, “I’ve never heard of anyone who’s sleepwalking and starts writing on a table”. Oh, Thomas, please! I once lived with someone who’d bake muffins in her sleep and wake up covered in crumbs. Stranger things have happened. Anyway, nobody thinks to do a quick Google search and find out what a ‘maron’ is; that’ll have to wait until literally the last five minutes of the film.
Still, an unnatural presence is suspected, and one night Thomas sends the mother and sister to a hotel, as they think the PE is most interested in Sam. They eventually agree to go and leave Thomas behind – unless something should happen. Flawless logic! He sets up tripwires with bells on – to what end, I have no idea – they’re not going to stop the PE, nor do they need further proof of his existence. Later on, whilst the PE assails Thomas with spooky noises, Thomas gets a call from Mother and Sister, who later say that the PE ‘followed them’, which must mean it can be in two places at once. The scriptwriter has no idea how this demon works.
It’s worth mentioning that the family members do not act and react to paranormal events like normal people. Sam never suffers from fear-induced insomnia; instead, she sleeps soundly through various spooky occurrences and even her own brother barging into her room at night, no secret knock or anything. The family members never turn on lights or use a torch around their pitch-black house. The family never think of calling upon a different paranormal investigator to help them; in fact, Edgar Lauren doesn’t seem to have a partner, which I’m told is a pretty good idea if you’re a paranormal investigator for obvious reasons!
When Lauren FINALLY turns up – alone – he explains that they’re dealing with a demon that rapes and murders women, which is a… less than tactful statement to make in the presence of Sam. We then cut to Lauren’s dead face on the ground, before Thomas takes the camcorder upstairs, following his sister’s screams, and captures footage of her levitating upside down, naked, covered in blood, being raped by the PE. Then the film ends. This is the part that makes me very angry indeed. Using rape as a shock tactic and nothing more is absolutely appalling, and we already had opening text to explain what happened to Sam; we don’t need to see it happen in such gratuitous fashion. I say again – absolutely appalling.
There’s no reason to watch this film. It’s confused, contrived, and far from being scary, it just feels like a waste of the viewers’ time. Do not watch.
1 jam sandwich.