The Paranormal Disappearance of Allyn Jesick Review
Recently, I had the good fortune of screening an up-and-coming director’s new addition to the found-footage genre. Shot and produced in my home state, director Mason Freeman creates an interesting tale of the supernatural and witchcraft. Yes, while everyone else is buzzing over exorcisms and ghosts, Freeman decided to expose the terrifying dangers of magic in The Paranormal Disappearance of Allyn Jesick.
Allyn Jesick (Hayley Lovitt) is creating a “My Life” video thesis, depicting the reunion of her, her sister Rose (Bethany Tiller), and their mother (Annie Cook) at their mother’s home in the North Carolina mountains. Their mother has suffered from cancer for several years, and has recently decided to cease her medical treatment for holistic practices. While Allyn and her mother are both optimistic about the results, Rose, a nurse, is highly skeptical. Their reunion is documented by an unseen friend and film student, but, instead of a happy family weekend, the camera captures something far more sinister.
As each night passes, our cameraman (director Mason Freeman) captures strange glowing lights in the old barn and chicken coop. When he boldly investigates during the day, he finds identical remains of burnt candles and black sludge. He keeps his findings hidden from the women, so as not to frighten anyone prematurely. But there are bigger things to worry about as their mother’s pleasant demeanor takes a drastic turn for the worse and her behavior becomes erratic, violent, and downright weird. They blame the cancer at first, but even after a visit from Dr. Charles (David Shifter, casting director), it’s clear something beyond this world is causing her distress. You know they should leave, call the police, or an ambulance, but, unfortunately, it’s too late.
This film is built on a very small cast, but it was quintessential for their chemistry to be as authentic as possible, which meant a rigorous casting process to find mom and daughters that would be beyond convincing. I have to applaud David Shifter and Hollywood East Casting for their work on finding the star trio. Their portrayals carried the movie above and beyond any performance like it I’ve seen. What made the film even more note-worthy was its lack of a formal script. By using an outline and allowing the cast to improvise most of their lines, every line felt significantly more real than it could have with a formal script. Certainly this tactic could have proven harmful to their story but, in fact, it was pulled off really well.
Where Paranormal lacks is in its inability to build tension toward the climax of the movie. It’s imperative for a horror film to create the sense of fear in the scenario in which the characters are put. Most of the scenes were very mild leading up to the pinnacle of the story. When the motor did start, though, the director’s use of cinematography, and lack of CG, proved well-placed in conveying a very creepy farm. To keep in their theme of genuine acting, actors on the set were sometimes uninformed of certain scenes in order to capture the most authentic scares you can get.
My Savage Score is a possessed 3 out of 5. Unlike other mockumentaries using flashy CG and abrupt screen shots to get cheap thrills, Paranormal stays simple and manages to hold its own in the crowd. Gore Score is a spotted 3 out of 10. Not a lot of blood to go around so keep an eye out for what’s not there. I think viewers will relate closely to this story and the actors inside it. More information will be released in the future about when this film will be available to the public.