The Paranormal Incident (2012)

According to IMDB this film had a budget of $3.1 million dollars, which genuinely surprised me. Filmed like a student’s passion project, the credits are laced with Matthew Bolton’s name, who directs, writes, produces and even made the DVD menus (bless him). Having watched the film I expected a budget of less than £100,000… and certainly nowhere near the 3 million dollars mark!

Why? A film like Mum & Dad was made for approximately £100,000 and similar Found Footage projects like The Tunnel (135,000 AUD) and Episode 50 (£1.34 million) have significantly less budget. Gareth Evans’ Monsters was made for $800,000!

Why am I mentioning budget? I find budget is always worth taking into consideration when reviewing a film. If it’s been made for pennies and is still great (see Colin) then praise is due and if it’s a bit rough-around-the-edges then you sometimes give a little benefit of the doubt. Unless it’s really genuinely awful (see Zombie Undead) then there’re no excuses for laziness or bad scripting.

The Paranormal Incident falls into a strange new category. A film with a significant budget (over 3 million dollars is a huge budget for a small found footage horror film) that manages to look like it’s been made for £6.55 and some favours. It truly looks cheap and shoddy and the budget reveal stunned me. What did they spend it on? Catering? Did they BUY a sanatorium?!

Anyway, on with the review. What is the plot of The Paranormal Incident? Well – and stop me if you’ve heard this synopsis before – but a group of student filmmakers go to an abandoned mental asylum armed with lots of night-vision cameras and blah blah blah ghosts appear blah blah blah history of evil doctors revealed blah people split up blah people die / go mental blah yawn blah eject disc. Blah.

It begins with a deeply dull and hilariously elusive conversation between hospitalised student John (Oliver Rayon) and some kind of unconvincing FBI / CIA / secret service woman. All his friends are dead, apparently killed in the derelict ruins of Odenbrook Sanitarium, having locked themselves inside for some media studies project

The sinister cop-lady asks John what happened in there and his answer is…

… suddenly we’re thrown into a Found Footage film! Eh?! No explanation! We’re suddenly watching camera footage of young people preparing for a night at Odenbrook.

Only fifteen minutes later do we realize the FBI / CIA / Police lady is showing John the footage on a TV in his massively unconvincing hospital room. The footage is perfectly-spliced and edited. It also features some people fucking at home. It also has locations printed on-screen, which is convenient. There are even subtitles for the ghosts!!

This survivor watching the tapes back with the police idea is an interesting attempt at an original twist on a tired story, but doesn’t make any fucking sense whatsoever and the jumping back to ‘now’ is actually really intrusive.

The script delivers us a plethora of incredibly dumb characters, most of which are deeply unbelievable. When our main character introduces himself as “I’m John and I’m a Tech head” you realize the writer had no clue what they were doing.

The script is shockingly on-the-nose and literally without subtext. Everyone just says what they feel, including the ghosts! It is also very very childish.

Remember $3.4 million dollars was spent on this? The major problem with The Paranormal Incident is the absolute lack of believability in anything you’re seeing.  Apparently Odenbrook Sanatorium was closed down 60 years ago after a mass suicide (of course) but the asylum looks like 10 completely different buildings, some of which have collapsed roofs and dusty corners and others that are clearly BRAND NEW! No dust! Perfectly painted! Utterly ridiculous!

If you like your films remotely logical then seriously avoid this dangerously dumb bag of cackbadgers. It’s so bad it’s almost a parody. So much is wrong with it, from the diabolical acting to the obviously made-up location names (“South Tower” is a corridor of cells and “Maximum Security” has a dining hall in the middle of it!!). The tension building never pays off and the scares are as cunning as someone SCREAMING at noises.

Only actors Chelsea Vincent and Derrick Scott actually seem to be competent at their jobs, whilst everyone else (cast, director, writer) fall incredibly short. Incidentally Derrick Scott was the best thing about Moby Dick; a great actor in some terrible films. Someone get this man a new agent!!

If this film had been made for £50,000 then I could forgive some of the massive misfires on display here, but for a simple found footage film to cost $3.1 MILLION DOLLARS and turn out like a dull, idiotic and awfully acted turd is unacceptable.

Seriously avoid.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

9 Comments on “The Paranormal Incident”

  1. Ashley says:

    Can someone please, for the love of god, explain the ending to me?

    • Scullion says:

      SPOILERS!

      It appears that our ‘hero’ wasn’t in hospital at all, but in a secure government facility that looks into and (presumably) covers up “paranormal incidents”.

      Having told his story, with the useful aid of some found footage, the evil government people are satisfied no one else knows about what happened.

      That’s what I *think* the ending was about. I’ve made it sound much more clever and exciting than it actually is though…

  2. keenen says:

    I rented this film of demand and I gta say it was the worse pile of sh—it everr
    And I thought it was made using £0 let alone 3M really I’ve watched low budget porn with a more believable actor,plot,directing ect…

  3. Mike says:

    Assuming I’m not the “wtf just happened” at the end, I pieced it together after watching a couple times and…
    ~WARNING: SPOILER~

    Our lone survivor John is apparently in some sort of government facility where a government group (perhaps the “Men in Black” of ghosts?) was holding him for a gathering of information. So after figuring out what the hell happened and whether or not anything happened, they killed him to cover it up. The very last scene shows the girl trapped, most likely in the sanatorium, with an unseen entity terrorizing her (it growls and she freaks out CONVINCINGLY). This allows one to draw the conclusion that the paranormal stuff that went down was legitemate. Everyone was killed by ghosts (or the devil?) and somehow John was spared. Maybe the entity had planned to use him to misdirect the agents or something, I don’t know. That was just stupid really if you ask me but since the movie sucked… Anyway, everyone was killed and whatever said the girl was his kept her in the asylum. The government came in to cover it up and possibly destroy all evidence including tapes, equipment, and possibly even the sanatorium itself. This was after they murdered the survivor of course.

    If a part 2 was made to this I’d hope that it be much better and tie up those loose ends. Hell maybe even include our captured girl who somehow escaped or something.

  4. Angela says:

    A better ending would have been for him to realize he was still in the asylum. ( ie 1408 style) trapped in his only delusion.

  5. Catita says:

    One more thing…as far as I understood the “BOSS” of the government police or something like that were the men in the photage they discovered when they arrived at Odenbrook. The same who is interviewing the couple. I’m not 100% sure but….

  6. lh says:

    the budget was 31 thousand, not 3.1 million, according to imdb:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2095742/business?ref_=tt_dt_bus

    • Scullion says:

      How strange… it does appear to now be $31,000! That’s not what it originally said on IMDB PRO!

      Oddly, Gorepress isn’t the only one to get this ‘wrong’ as another website (http://www.mercuryrapids.co.uk/foundfootage.htm) said:

      “By the way, I just noticed that on the iMDB listing (see the link above), that this film had a budget of over $3 million! I have seen much better films made for a fraction of that amount of money!”

      Oh, and this review also mentions it: http://www.moviemuser.co.uk/reviews/9748/the-paranormal-incident-dvd.aspx

      Looks like someone may’ve entered it wrong on IMDB in the first place. Or has changed it because the result is even more embarrassing for a 3 million dollar movie.

      Whatever the case, it doesn’t stop the movie from being what it is…

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