Friday, 30 August 2013



I don't want to waste too much time on this because there's frankly little that I haven't moaned about so many times before. It's yet another found footage semi-documentary in which people repeatedly clump around the undergrowth at a spooky location in the small hours of the morning, viewing and filming everything through a night-vision camcorder. It looks cheap and ugly, it's mostly massively boring with a few jump scares, and it does nothing with the found footage technique except drag them out again to show just how lame they really are.

In all truth I wouldn't have bothered with The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill were it not for the coincidence of local interest: I live just eight miles from there and the stories of black magic rites, satanic ceremonies and desecration of graves at the redundant and derelict village church in the 1960s are a part of the area's folk history. Some filmmakers and local paranormalists decided to spend several nights up there filming and recording in the hope of finding ghosts at the exact spots where spectral figures are alleged to have been seen; and we get to sit through their home movies.

The green glowy-eyes Night Mode on a digital camera would make the biscuit aisle in Waitrose look like a portal to Hell, and the fuzz of lo-def video darkness can throw up any number of vague shadows that could be pretty much anything if you squint hard enough. But found has a visual aesthetic that suggests immediacy and reality (because it's on a handheld camcorder like the one you shot all those birthday parties and days at the beach on) rather than any directorial style and flair: there's a difference between making a film and just pointing a Handycam at stuff. There's doubtless a proper movie to made about Clophill Church, and it would be nice to see it someday. This isn't it.


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