So this is a nice little example from the Blair Witch/Paranormal Activity genre of mocumentary horror films. In addition, it fits snugly into the demonic possession sub-category as well. But it’s MUCH better than The Devil Within (will review that soon…perhaps I should say I will have a long rant about that soon).
It’s filmed – very successfully as it turns out – as the documentation of a haunting being investigated by a group of parapsychologists. As such, it might seem a bit cliché – but seriously now – this is such an obvious premise yet I can’t actually think of that many occasions when it’s been used in the past. Aside, of course, from Blair Witch. And even if it has been done before that doesn’t stop this film being a solid little slice of cinema.
Our three intrepid parapsychologists are investigating the supernatural events (seemingly a haunting) which are besetting a young family. After the death of his wife Alan has been left to look after their two children: a sweet little boy called Benny and the demon-bitch-from-hell Caitlin. In an attempt to escape from the supernatural occurrences the family have already moved once – but to no avail. Whatever is haunting them, has followed them to their new home.
I have to say the characterisation of the family is great and the acting is absolutely superb, particularly from the two young actors playing Benny and Caitlin. Paul and Ellen, the two young parapsychologists are also nicely-developed and engaging characters – and frankly that’s quite unusual in a horror movie.
This film has a few things going on. Firstly there’s the mystery behind the haunting – what’s causing it and why? Then there’s the massive amount of tension constantly brewing between Alan and Caitlin in a relationship that is rapidly heading toward total meltdown. Then of course there are the supernatural events themselves which the crew attempt to document. Over the course of 2 nights the scares steadily build and there are some absolutely brilliant, nail-biting moments. Genuinely – there are a couple of scenes here that are utterly superb.
I think this film is a real gem. It’s a shame it hasn’t had more publicity. I only stumbled across it during a raid on YouTube trailers. But, it isn’t perfect – although I don’t have too many criticisms. In fact, really just the two.
Criticism number 1 is that the end of the film isn’t totally satisfying. It also leaves you guessing a little bit. I actually thought the end was going to be a lot cleverer than it was – but I don’t want to spoil it so I won’t say way.
Criticism number 2 is much bigger. Michael O’Keefe as Dr Helzer is bloody awful in this film. I don’t know if the guy just couldn’t be bothered or what – and to be fair his dialogue was the crappiest in the film – but he was just total and utter pants. Not only did he read his lines with all the enthusiasm of a week-dead corpse, but at the climax of the film, his attempts to look like a man being blasted by a supernatural gust of wind, looked more like a man with terrible constipation. Also, everything that surrounded his character – the supposedly deeply-insightful supernatural philosophy and ‘scientific theory’ he kept spouting was painful. And the way he wandered in and out of shot looking intellectual and concerned was just bloody annoying.
But apart from him and the slightly weaker than expected ending, this film is really very good. Big thumbs up.