No one likes reliving hurtful past memories, especially when they have to do with tattered family ties and a childhood home that was anything but nurturing. When Alexis inherits her childhood home and moves back into the premises, she finds herself haunted by ghosts of the past and violent visions of the future. Are her nightmares the work of real poltergeists, or is a deadlier secret waiting to break out of the closet? In Akil Pugh’s Paranormal Evil, there’s more than meets the eye in this startling, dramatic thriller. Based on the screenplay by ShaRonda Brown, Paranormal Evil stars Andrea Ciliberti, Najee De-Tiege, Denise Garcia, John Kellar, Sulaiman Muhammad, Idrees Degas, Sophia Flot-Warner, Cristal Bubblin and Heather Savoy. Read my review below to find out if this new, upcoming feature from Sinning Works and Green Apple Entertainment is a powerful statement or a dud in the making.
In a world where haunted house films have been beaten to death, and films like Poltergeist and Paranormal Activity have already raised the bar, it’s hard to do something that’s going to wow audiences. Luckily, ShaRonda Brown’s script has so many different plot elements and subgenres crammed into one feature film that it’s far from common and overdone. Paranormal Evil deals with the town’s most vicious murders and the possibility that they’re attributed to a dangerous entity that inhabits Alexis’ house. With that in place, the viewer gets a cunning and cruel combination of horror, thriller, supernatural and true crime themes…and the drama. I can’t forget to mention that Paranormal Entity is just as much a dramatic piece as it is a horror film. That’s one of my only complaints, that the first 60% of this movie was too far into the realm of drama and failed to deliver “the goods” in terms of scare factor.
Life is tough for Alexis. There’s no doubt about that. She’s the only survivor of a previous mass murder, one that claimed the life of her mother. Her boyfriend…isn’t the greatest guy in the world. And on top of that, hey, the house she wishes she could forget is probably haunted. It’s hard to explain anything, her mind must be so jumbled. There’s just so much that’s unknown. That’s why I love what director Akil Pugh and cinematographer Dawn Suhyun-shim did in terms of camera work when it comes to Paranormal Evil. It’s hazy, hard, bleak and dimmed down; accurately conveying all types of conflicting emotions and an atmosphere that wreaks of uncertainty. There isn’t a whole lot of happiness to be found in this motion picture, and that’s definitely demonstrated through the expert camera work. The acting, which was splendid across the board, also helped to convey the dark nature of this story. Everyone did a great job playing unassuming people will dark motives behind fake smiles. Well done.
I’m trying to look for criticisms, but there isn’t anything in my notes besides a scene or two maybe being too loud. I fall back to Paranormal Evil being more drama and horror, but in the effort of being fair, I don’t think it was ever envisioned to be this crazy insane ghost movie. Its richness is found in the complex story and strong performances, and a basis forged in something we all hate – family problems. By horror standards, it’s on the slow side, but by the time the viewer approaches the ending, it’s a creepy, unrelenting nightmare that hits you from all angles. It’s the climax of a multi-faced build-up and the typical “is she going crazy or are their demons” mystery. It culminates in an ending that is unsuspecting and closely mirrors The Omen. And I’d like to add that Paranormal Evil, originally titled Viktorville, boasts a marginally non-white cast and crew. Diversity is the key to success and horror fans, this is something we can all cheer about.
Final Score: 6.5 out of 10.