A group of scientists headed by parapsychologist Dr. Helzer (Michael O’Keefe) and including Paul (Rick Gonzalez) and Ellen (Fiona Glascott) are sent to an apartment to investigate a possible haunting. Kai Lennox, Gia Mantegna (yes, the daughter of Fat Tony), and Damian Roman play the widowed family patriarch, bratty teen daughter, and adorable young son of the family. The daughter and father, by the way, seem to have a volatile relationship at this point that may or may not have some sinister undertones. By the end, family secrets are unearthed, but is anything truly paranormal going on, or is there a more rational explanation? O’Keefe certainly spends much of the film firmly in the latter camp and thinks daughter Mantegna may be the key to it all. But is he right? You’ll have to watch it yourself in order to find out.
Given that this 2012 film from debut director Carles Torrens has an alternate title that sounds very William Castle-ish (“Emergo”, the name of a gimmick Castle used in one of his schlocky movies), and given writer Rodrigo Cortes was the director of the terrific minimalist thriller “Buried”, I had high hopes for this film. And hey, I like a good paranormal/haunting movie as much as the next guy, even if there aren’t very many good ones.
Unfortunately, this film is far from a classic in the subgenre. In fact, it’s pretty much a rip-off of the “Paranormal Activity” films (only one of which was worth watching) with a nod or two to “Insidious” and “Poltergeist” thrown in. Add in an attempt at pseudo-realism in approach that is immediately shattered by the appearance of the very recognisable (if older and balder) Michael O’Keefe from “Caddyshack” (Be the ball, Danny!), and you’ve got a pretty underwhelming experience, even for fans of the haunting/paranormal subgenre. It’s just not very good, and not terribly convincing.
It’s an impressively lit film and the shot composition is good too, despite some shaky-cam. But an impressive look can only carry a film so far, and with the far too familiar story, I just didn’t get much out of this. It’s also mostly pretty dry and talky, with some of O’Keefe’s psychobabble being way over my head (or just plain nonsensical, poorly thought-out gibberish).
However, the final 10-15 minutes are truly insane and terrific, and it’s a shame they aren’t attached to a better film, because at least they were memorable and unexpected, the rest is nondescript and incredibly clichéd. Oh well. This is just too familiar to be effective, and the faux-reality motif is immediately shattered by the casting of Michael O’Keefe. Not every horror film needs to be a ‘found footage’ film, y’know, especially if you’re gonna mess it up like this. There are elements that could’ve combined to create something effective, but Torrens and Cortes haven’t managed to pull it off at all. Sorry, maybe next time, guys.
Relatively well-acted, but even if you’re desperate for something to watch, I can’t quite recommend this one. Watch “The Entity” or “The Changeling” again instead, if you want a truly scary paranormal/ghost film.