The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill DVD Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Second Sight
Directed by Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates
Written by Kevin Gates
2013, Region 2 (PAL), 88 minutes, Rating 15 (UK)
DVD released on October 14th 2013
Michael Bartlett as Himself
Kevin Gates as Himself
Criselda Cabitac as Herself
Craig Stovin as Himself
Mark Jeavons as Himself
Mark Andrews as Cult Member
Dear diary, today I watched a film that bored me senseless. The Paranormal Diaries combines the worst habits of ghost hunting documentaries with the most dull elements of found footage horror films to create something truly, transcendently boring. At least Most Haunted has Derek Acorah to enliven its wandering around in the dark. The Paranormal Diaries is just people wandering around in the dark. At one point, no-one wanders anywhere, and we just sit and watch a tree for five minutes.
I've made very little secret of my disdain for found footage horror films. I'll give even the worst of them a chance, but very rarely am I surprised. Largely, they tend to consist of a number of no-name actors running around, screaming in the woods while a monster you never get to see chases them loudly and messily from behind, before the tale ends abruptly with a shock that makes no real sense. Occasionally you'll reach the heights of [REC] or Cannibal Holocaust, but usually not. I had hoped that Kevin Gates and Michael Bartlett would offer something a little bit different here, but, alas, this is not the case. Prolific diary writers, Gates and Bartlett: Gates' CV is made exclusively of films with 'diaries' in the title (see The Zombie Diaries, Zombie Diaries 2 and the forthcoming Paranormal Diaries: Mothman). These guys have written more diaries than Adrian Mole.
The Paranormal Diaries sends a group of filmmakers to the small English town of Clophill, where they assemble to investigate the legend of the witches and black masses once held at the church there. As their filming carries on late into the night, something in the woods stirs... eventually. It's no exaggeration when I say that The Paranormal Diaries is the most boring found footage film I have ever seen. And when you consider that ninety percent of the subgenre consists of obnoxious people stuck doing unexceptional things, that becomes a pretty definitive thing to say. But nothing even remotely interesting happens until ten minutes before the film's end, and even then, it's a rip-off of Kill List. Filmed entirely in nightvision, it's ugly and difficult to watch.
Boring, cloying and uninspired, The Paranormal Diaries is one of the subgenre's worst entries yet.
Video and Audio:
It's pitch black in some places, drowned in hideous nightvision in others. It sounds effective, but that's about the only thing the film does well.
There are two commentaries – one with writer and director Kevin Gates, then another with the cast and crew. Tales from the Graveyard collects twenty minutes' worth of deleted scenes and interviews.