I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy found-footage style horror movies, IF they are done well. There are many of these out there, yet only a small percentage are worth watching. A new trend is on the rise, however, a similar subgenre that is catching fire in filmmaking circles: documentary-style horror. This subgenre has been around for a while, but is experiencing a new surge in activity. It is very close to found-footage, in that it’s shot with handheld cameras and in an on-the-fly method…however, the footage is not presented as ‘discovered’. THE PARANORMAL DIARIES: CLOPHILL is a recent addition to this category, and while it is not perfect, it is still a fun film that can be entertaining.
If you are not familiar with THE PARANORMAL DIARIES: CLOPHILL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Image Entertainment:
Based on true events, six investigators head to one of the world’s most haunted places to uncover the source of supernatural sightings and phenomena. Known for centuries as a notorious magnet for grave robbers, body snatchers, Satanists and cultists since the time of The Black Death, the ruined St. Mary’s Church at Clophill plays host to filmmaker Kevin Gates and his team of researchers. Obsessed with unraveling the secrets of this “unholy ground,” they venture into the murky darkness armed with cameras, curiosity and a need to expose the truth. However, some secrets were meant to stay buried – permanently. Over the course of three chilling nights, it becomes clear that they have unleashed something ancient and evil that has long been hungry to escape into this world.
I’ve seen a couple of documentary-style horror films over the years that I really enjoyed, including TROLLHUNTER. When done right, these movies can be very engaging and even frightening.
THE PARANORMAL DIARIES: CLOPHILL has some pretty decent cinematography, especially when you consider the type of film it is. I am particularly impressed with the lighting. Many handheld films lack in the lighting department, and therefore the action is difficult to make out. Not so here. I never had a problem seeing anything onscreen.
The acting is pretty good, too. Most of the cast portray themselves, so they are technically just pretending in a paranormal scenario. There are no real standout performances to speak of, but they do a good job as a whole.
Unfortunately, the scares in THE PARANORMAL DIARIES: CLOPHILL never really materialize. There are some intense scenes here and there, and the production team does a great job of building suspense, but for the most part I was left wanting more. The concept of the Black Mass and occultists is cool (don’t worry…no spoilers here), however I think they should have been fleshed out more.
Still, you can certainly see the heart that was put into this film. It is not a boring movie at all, and it plays out like an actual documentary would. If you’re looking for hard-edged horror, you will probably want to give this one a pass. But if you’re a fan of GHOST HUNTERS or shows of that nature, I would definitely give this one a look. It is available today in a variety of formats.