The Paranormal Diaries : Clophill (2013)

Directed By: Michael Bartlett
  Kevin Gates
Written By: Kevin Gates
Starring: Michael Bartlett
  Kevin Gates
The Paranormal Diaries : Clophill

From the creators of The Zombies Diaries 1 & 2, The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill focuses on a group of would-be paranormal investigators checking out the allegedly-haunted Clophill church in Bedfordshire. Apparently the site of black magic rituals and multiple-ghost sightings, the team decide to spend a few nights in the ruined church… and live to regret it. Kind of.

If you really love Most Haunted and feel it’s not quite fake enough, then The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill is for you. If you think most ‘found footage’ films lack naturalism and realism then you’ll be begging for dinosaurs, screaming monsters and ghosts gurning at the camera once you’ve watched The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill, because – putting it as fairly as possible – bugger all interesting happens for the majority of the film.

If you manage to survive the first 45 minutes of endless preamble, rumour and speculation, The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill begins to become intriguing, finally throwing us into some moments of potential scares… but they are few and far between… and anyone who’s ever seen a horror film probably won’t even blink, let alone jump. The biggest scare comes after 75 minutes, so it’s a long slog to get there.

If their aim was to create a 100% convincing paranormal documentary, then they succeeded admirably (apart from the ending…), but unfortunately paranormal documentaries lack conflict, plot, character development, theme or resolution… which is why they’re not feature films.

Unfortunately, The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill has similar issues to many of these paranormal documentary TV shows, whereby it repeats and recycles footage constantly – mostly during voiceover – to the point where you use these moments to make tea or text your mates… which is sadly inexcusable for a feature film. And it’s really hard to make tea in the cinema.

The barely defined characters are wonderfully naturalistic, but this is – again – the ironic failing of this faux-documentary. Each character is genuine, genuinely nice and seems to have good intentions… which unfortunately makes for incredibly dull viewing.

At 55 minutes someone cracks out the Ouija Board, so if you originally liked the characters you now loathe them. A Ouija Board? Really?! It’s like putting a zombie clown in charge of a crèche.

Even this, however, doesn’t make The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill any more compelling. The scares could’ve easily been created by the ‘documentary filmmakers’ (if this wasn’t fake anyway), most of the ghost-sightings are literally conjecture and if their hope was to generate growing tension it sadly fails, which makes their Kill List / The Last Exorcism-style ending seem crass and ridiculous.

Hopefully the announced sequel (The Paranormal Diaries: Mothman) will be a little more compelling and deliver some better developed characters, because Clophill is a fantastic recreation of a dull television show. Watchable but unfortunately rather pointless.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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