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Keep expectations low and you might find some entertainment.

DVD Review: ‘The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill’

Believe it or not, there’s still a tiny bit of life left in the found footage genre. The key is to present them in a documentary style instead of just having a bunch of obnoxious characters run around with cameras. Directors Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates (who also supplied the story and screenplay) set their sights on a real location known for supernatural activity.

Paranormal Diaries: Clophill, Clophill, HalloweenThe Paranormal Diaries: Clophill may be an awful title, but for at least the first hour, the “investigation” into the creepy shenanigans of the St. Mary’s Church in the village of Clophill, England, plays out like one of the better ghost hunting shows found on cable. Does it hold its own up to the credits? You can find out on DVD September 30 from Image Entertainment.

A documentary crew, led by documentary coordinator Craig (Craig Stovin) and interviewer Criselda (Criselda Cabitac), set off to shed some light on the spooky happenings surrounding the dilapidating church in Clophill. Along for the filming is the director Kevin (Gates), co-producer Mike (Bartlett), and cameraman Mark (Mark Jeavons).

They interviewing everyone they can find in Clophill: local residents, priests, incident witnesses, and former cult members. While searching the area, they come across what could be human bones, a horn, and a rotting bird carcass. It doesn’t take long before a ghost named Sofie starts trying to make contact, and of course an Ouija board comes into play before all hell tries to break loose.

For a good portion of the film, Clophill feels like a true documentary. Bartlett and Gates treat their subject with authenticity and had they trimmed the proceedings down to the standard 42-minute runtime of a TV special, the tension could have really proven itself. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of dead air, with characters standing around whispering and asking each other, “Did you hear that strange noise?” The ending even aims for a bit of Blair Witch meets The Last Exorcism action, which just means they had no idea how they wanted to end it. So it does just that, it ends abruptly.

The acting is above average for this kind of production, but dragged out to feature length, there just aren’t enough thrills to keep your interest piqued. It’s funny to mention that Clophill is too long when there’s 22 minutes worth of deleted scenes. However, the two audio commentaries are more interesting, consisting of one with cast members Stovin, Cabitac, and Gates, and the second featuring solely Gates. There is a good movie hidden within The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill, but when it comes to the month of October, we expect more from our horror movies. Keep expectations low and you might find some entertainment — especially if you watch late at night or with the lights off.

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival and a member of the Utah Film Critics Association.