Movie: *** out of 5
Extras: *** 1/2
Article first published as DVD Review: ‘The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill’ on Blogcritics.
Believe it or not, there’s still a tiny bit of life left in
the found footage genre. The key is to present them in a documentary
style instead of just having a bunch of obnoxious characters run around
with cameras. Directors Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates (who also
supplied the story and screenplay) set their sights on a real location
known for supernatural activity.
The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill
may be an awful title, but for at least the first hour, the
“investigation” into the creepy shenanigans of the St. Mary’s Church in
the village of Clophill, England, plays out like one of the better ghost
hunting shows found on cable. Does it hold its own up to the credits?
You can find out on DVD September 30 from Image Entertainment.
A documentary crew, led by documentary coordinator Craig (Craig
Stovin) and interviewer Criselda (Criselda Cabitac), set off to shed
some light on the spooky happenings surrounding the dilapidating church
in Clophill. Along for the filming is the director Kevin (Gates),
co-producer Mike (Bartlett), and cameraman Mark (Mark Jeavons).
They interview everyone they can find in Clophill: local
residents, priests, incident witnesses, and former cult members. While
searching the area, they come across what could be human bones, a horn,
and a rotting bird carcass. It doesn’t take long before a ghost named
Sofie starts trying to make contact, and of course an Ouija board comes
into play before all hell tries to break loose.
For a good portion of the film, Clophill feels like a true
documentary. Bartlett and Gates treat their subject with authenticity
and had they trimmed the proceedings down to the standard 42-minute
runtime of a TV special, the tension could have really proven itself.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of dead air, with characters standing
around whispering and asking each other, “Did you hear that strange
noise?” The ending even aims for a bit of Blair Witch meets The Last Exorcism action, which just means they had no idea how they wanted to end it. So it does just that, it ends abruptly.
The acting is above average for this kind of production, but dragged
out to feature length, there just aren’t enough thrills to keep your
interest piqued. It’s funny to mention that Clophill is too
long when there’s 22 minutes worth of deleted scenes. However, the two
audio commentaries are more interesting, consisting of one with cast
members Stovin, Cabitac, and Gates, and the second featuring solely
Gates. There is a good movie hidden within The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill,
but when it comes to the month of October, we expect more from our
horror movies. Keep expectations low and you might find some
entertainment — especially if you watch late at night or with the lights