Director: Sergi Vizcaino
Screenplay: Daniel Padro
Starring: Amaia Salamanca, Maxi Iglesias, Lucho Fernandez, Ursula Corbero, Oscar Sinela, Alba Ribas, Manuel de Blas
Running Time: 80mins
Format: DVD/3D BD
Release Date: 24/02/14
Reviewed by Guy Adams
Spain, a country that has crafted an untouchable reputation for intelligent, well-crafted, scary movies. This is evoked on the cover of this latest offering from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment. Paranormal Xperience comes to us from the producers of THE ORPHANAGE and JULIA’S EYES.
This is an old trick, of course, and a fun game can be had by reversing such plaudits (THE ARTIST, brought to you by the producer of ASTERIX AND OBELIX MEET CLEOPATRA, LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING brought to you by the producer of DICK TRACY; 12 YEARS A SLAVE, brought to you by the producer of ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED).
Vague chuckles aside, let’s not descend into snobbery, anyone who has seen my DVD collection knows I am a long-standing champion of the lower rungs of cinematic output, there’s not many homes that proudly own both CITIZEN KANE and FRANKENHOOKER. Still, it would be remiss of me not to point out that Paranormal Xperience isn’t in the same class as the movies quoted.
Paranormal Xperience — how I love that spelling of ‘experience’. it’s cheap and trashy and makes me think of Hammer’s The Quatermass Xperiment, another movie that’s better than this one — was nothing more than a 3D seat-filler aimed at the teenage market. It recalls the days of Jason Voorhees poking pitchforks at you in FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH PART III, it’s a formulaic slice of stereoscopic slaughter designed to make you flinch. And that’s absolutely fine.
A group of Beautiful Young Things (plus ‘Geek Who Knows Stuff’, naturally) are roped into a camping trip to study a haunted salt mine. If they can find evidence of paranormal activity, a sign that famed torturer and murderer Dr Matarga continues to kill from beyond the grave, then they will do better in their end of term exams. Naturally, they find it. If nothing else, the movie is a salutary lesson in the importance of revision: a few late-night cramming sessions will always be more preferable than a rusty meat-hook in the trachea.
We spend forty minutes having the students wander around and then forty minutes watching them being picked off by heavy smoker and creepy-mask owner, Martarga. Excuses to split up are forged, getaway vans develop engine problems, nut jobs loom in the corner of the frame and much is made of the fact that the female cast have attractive body parts (one memorable bit of mise en scene places Ursuala Corbero’s denim-short clad buttocks in a lingering, extreme close-up filling two-thirds of the frame while something goes on in the distance, barely glimpsed in the few inches left available, even Matarga notices, going on to compliment her on her ‘buen culo’ twenty minutes later).
All of this is par for the course. The teen-slasher is a genre all of its own and such formulas were long established long before PARANORMAL XPERIENCE came along to work in the salt mines. Perhaps we might hope for it to bring something original to the table but, failing that, we can be relieved that it does at least stick to the well-worn tracks competently. It’s being released on standard DVD and 3D Blu-ray.