Director: Kevin Gates, Michael Bartlett
Starring: Kevin Gates, Michael Bartlett, Criselda Cabitac UK. 1h 28m
There’s been a big trend in making found footage movies, where the cast head out to investigate something unusual and paranormal, only to find themselves running around in the darkness screaming with terror, and if done well this chilling concept can really get under the skin of a lot of audience participants, however if done with the wrong pace and little care, then the unsettling can become uninteresting.
Despite any flaws, Paranormal Diaries has a pretty easy format to get into, the characters are run of the mill and just about believable but there’s no real substance to the story which flits from one idea to another. The found footage aspect is imaginative and there’s some rare moments where brilliance does shine through, not only in the quality of the storytelling but the sheer amount of weirdness that gets lumped into the mix.
initially the story revolves around a team of intrepid explorers, who are heading to an ancient and forgotten church ground where people have reported strange activity, they suspect both ancient and new cause for the high strangeness, as new devil worshipping cults have been assumed to be active in the area, but only time will tell what’s going on as they head out, totally unprepared i might add, to seek the truth and flirt with the unknown.
The team explain who they are and document the footage which has sparked their enthusiasm, part of the backstory is the team’s driving force is a young couple whose daughter talks to a ghost in her bedroom, so the paranormal is part of their daily life. The team trek out to the site to perform their experiments and filming. at one point it’s thought to be a cool idea to stand alone on a dark path to attract an unknown entity and once it sounds like something has arrived they then ignore that the lonely adventurer hasn’t replied on the walkie talkie for a few minutes, just to make sure there’s no chance of finding them.
The creepiest moments involve rock throwing (bigfoot?) a strange drumming cult in robes hanging out around the site (druids?) and lots of strange noises.
“They knew something was going on… the police were maybe covering for it.”
Personally i try to keep the ghost shows to the bare minimum as most of them are an insult into the real hero’s out there seeking answers rather than freaking out about dust on a camera lens, but there’s a lot of similarities here , but we’ve seen it all before, Blair Witch, Grave Encounters and more recently even films such as The Cleansing Hour all manage to successfully give us a thriving kick to the senses s they regale stories of good vs evil and strange goings on. But the movies which do succeed are the ones who give us something to jump at, a reason to leave the lights on, but for this slog through the dark church yard I kinda wanted something to take them all away…
Related: Blair Witch (1999), There’s Something in the Shadows (2021),
Lists: British Folk Horror, AOFA Found Footage Bingo.