A team of four amateur paranormal investigators, in an attempt to boost the flagging ratings of their cable show, have secured the rights to be the last to film at a long abandoned prison, before it is demolished.
Previous film crews have attempted to contact the spirit of a notorious serial killer, who was once incarcerated at the prison. Although each attempt reported spooky encounters, all the footage taken was mysteriously wiped upon leaving the prison grounds.
Can the team survive the night within the prison walls? Will they be able to solve the mystery of how a prisoner disappeared from solitary? And will they be able to finally prove the existence of spirits?
Straight away we are in familiar territory here, with the bar being set by previous genre entries such as ‘The Innkeepers’ (2011) and the superb ‘Grave Encounters’ (2011).
There is nothing wrong with re-treading old ground in the genre, providing you have a unique take on the material, as ‘Host’ (2020) recently proved.
Paranormal Prison starts out very well, building the back-story of the prison, its previous occupants and alluding to disasters and spooky goings on within the prison walls.
The acting from the largely unknown cast is above par for this type of film and each of the characters are well fleshed out, even if the ‘previous trauma’ monologues get a little cringe inducing after a while.
All things considered, the first forty-five minutes of the seventy minute run time do a good job of setting up slow burn anticipation for the final act. This is sadly where the film utterly fails to deliver.
The ‘action’, such as it is, mainly revolves around an animated mannequin, played by Don Shanks, who famously played Michael Myers in ‘Halloween 5: The Curse of Michael Myers’ (1989). His role here is reduced to standing in random places whilst the rest of the cast run away screaming.
We are then treated to a series of flashbacks to earlier moments in the film, either because the film makers thought viewers would be too dense to pick up on the ham fisted clues that have been laid out like breadcrumbs or, more likely, just to pad the runtime to over an hour.
The mystery that the team solves would have been solved by the Scooby Doo gang in less than twenty minutes and the obligatory ‘twist’ ending is so obvious that any genre fan will have guessed it long before the final reveal.
All in all a very disappointing climax to a film that showed such potential early on. My advice is to watch the first three quarters of an hour, turn it off and make up your own ending, I guarantee it will be better than the one they filmed.