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Review: Dean Alioto’s “Portal”

Put the name Heather Langenkamp in any movie and horror fans are going to flock to it. I mean, that’s why I ended up here reviewing this title, right? Tea Ball LCC and Willkie Ventures in association with HorrorHound Films, Lotus Visual Arts and Indie Syndicate Productions present Portal, a star-studded, paranormal twister that cements its place at the top of the ghost hunting subgenre this Halloween season. Based on the screenplay by Peter Dukes and Dean Alioto, Portal follows a small ghost hunting team who dream of bigger and better opportunities; ones that rival paranormal investigation shows seem to stumble on again and again. When they find a big break and the biggest haunt of their careers, the fame-seeking team descent on a normal house in the woods that’s anything but cozy. It holds dark secrets and, after finding a box buried in the back yard, unleashes evil on the unsuspecting cameramen and host. Directed by Dean Alioto and starring Ryan Merriman (Halloween Resurrection, Final Destination 3), Jamie Tisdale (“From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series”), Myk Watford, Rienaldo Savarce, Najarra Townsend, Gregory Zaragoza, Yan Birch (The People Under the Stairs) and Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Portal is available on digital and on demand starting October 15th 2019 courtesy of Vertical Entertainment and High Octane Pictures.

Let’s be real: the ghost hunting subgenre of horror is like beating a dead horse with a stick at this point. We’ve seen everything it has to offer about a hundred times already and it takes a lot to make viewers say “wow.” While it’s true that Portal doesn’t offer much in terms of originality, it does make up for that with awesome acting performances and applause-worth camera work. Seriously, there’s nothing about this flick that doesn’t scream “big Hollywood ready” and I’m honestly surprised this title wasn’t sent to theaters. I loved what the behind-the-scenes crew did with audio, angles and locations, and there’s a ton of award winning shots to be found here. Producers Chris Sergi, Reinaldo Savarce and Andrezka Vasques as well as cinematographer Ignacio Walker and director/editor Dean Alioto are crew members that you want on your movie set. Together, they created a movie that’s hip for the current horror generation, and a fluid and error-free nightmare that’s easy on the eyes. It’s mainstream as Hell and filled with a ton of familiar faces to keep the older viewers happy. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I was having so much fun watching Portal that I forgot to be scared!

Speaking of familiar faces, Ryan Marriman was absolutely the perfect man for the job as lead actor. While I mentioned that the ghost hunting thing is overdone, Ryan’s performance here forced me to pay attention (and not just because he’s cute). He was charming and enchanting and everything you’d want out of a host and he always reeled me in to the action. And Heather Langenkamp and Yan Birch were equally as amazing, and I was surprised to see they played off each other well as siblings in the movie. Heather even pokes fun at the horror stereotype of “oh, there’s a box with a spell inside? let’s read it and see what happens!” Thank god Dean Alioto decided to showcase this story as a traditional narrative film with a tiny bit of found footage mixed in because it really allowed the cast to shine. It’s no secret that I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing of Portal. Aside from its short run-time (an hour and ten minutes) and a lack of scares that dared to go above and beyond, this flick is pretty solid and honestly one of my favorite flicks of the Halloween 2019 season. It’s appealing and eye-catching, and backed by surprising and rising talent that deserve to be seen. I highly recommend streaming/downloading Portal when it releases on October 15th 2019. I promise you won’t be sorry you did!

Final Score: 8 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)