Paranormal Entity

Paranormal Entity


Reviewed by: James Gracey

In the grand tradition of Transmorphers, I Am ?mega and The Day The Earth Stopped, Paranormal Entity is the latest mock-buster from The Asylum, a production company famed for producing titles that capitalise on productions by major studios. Not that Paranormal Activity could ever be referred to as a major production – but it certainly did well enough at the box office to warrant its own fairly redundant rip-off.

Thomas (Shane Van Dyke – also the film’s writer-director) and his sister Samantha (Erin Marie Hogan) are grieving the death of their father from a year earlier. Mother Ellen (Fia Perera) thinks she is able to communicate with dead dad through automatic writing. However, it soon becomes clear that it is a malicious poltergeist making contact with her, not the father. The presence torments them in the night, particularly Samantha. Thomas decides to film events on a series of strategically placed cameras through the house so they can be shown to their out-of-town psychic.

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It is impossible not to make reference to Paranormal Activity while talking about Paranormal Entity. This is an attempt at a carbon copy, but it is a pale imitation. Whereas Activity drew its audience into the story with slow-burning chills, Entity director mistakes tension for tedium, and slow-burning terror for crass jump shocks and this film becomes repetitious and predictable much too early on.

Other filmmakers have proved that it is possible to conjure an atmosphere of dread and foreboding with creativity and imagination. Van Dyke’s film however, is bolstered together by a series of overly familiar, creaky and hoary conventions. The story unfolds through a series of episodic segments capturing occurrences from key nights throughout the course of the haunting. Again, unlike Paranormal Activity, no tension is generated and Van Dyke almost instantly bombards the audience with shameless, tacky and obtrusive ‘jumps’ from the get go, failing to recognise that anticipation is how tension is generated. Any effective shots are merely ones ‘inspired’ by the other film.

One creepy twist comes when it is revealed that whatever has been stalking the family has left footprints all over the ceiling and walls of the house. As Thomas follows the footprints around the house, the handheld camera work really becomes effective and as tension mounts, the feeling that something could jolt into shot at anytime is overwhelming. To his credit, Van Dyke doesn’t resort to such obvious jump tactics this time, and the suspense garnered from the scene is quite palpable. However, it is too little, too late and Paranormal Entity trudges ever wearily towards its limp conclusion where it merely fizzles out in an exhalation of anti-climactic resignation instead of the chilling and spine-tingling revelation it could have been.

Reviewed on: 14 May 2010
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Paranormal Entity packshot
A woman is plagued by a poltergeist.
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Director: Shane Van Dyke

Writer: Shane Van Dyke

Starring: Shane Van Dyke, Erin Marie Hogan, Fia Perera, Norman Saleet

Year: 2009

Runtime: 88 minutes

Country: US


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