Dir. Nimrod Zalmanowitz
Starring – Aaron Mathias, Nathan Spiteri, Laura Gilreath, Grace Evans.
Provisional UK Release – August 4th 2014 – High Fliers Films.
Paranormal Asylum starts with two friends Mark and Andy who meet up to film a documentary about an old asylum/hospital . They also hear about the case of Mary Mallon a young woman who was sent their after being found as asymptomatic carrier of typhoid ( one who can carry and pass on a disease but it has not ill effect on the carrier). And so this is the story of Typhoid Mary who apparently can still be seen walking the ruins as a spirit!!
Mark (Aaron Mathias) is a failed LA screen writer and his friend Andy (Nathan Spiteri) is the one who sets them up with all the expensive “Ghost Hunting” equipment including monitors , cameras etc. The pair are also joined by Andy’s girlfriend Michelle (Laura Gilreath) , she has found out about their project and wants in as she is not only psychically sensitive but also very nosey!
So the team set up the equipment at the hospital and this will then relay all the pictures and sounds back to their base which is set up at Andy and Michelle’s house.
A few spooky sightings occur over the next day but nothing to really to get the pulses racing. But then in the night Michelle (being all Psychic and stuff) decides to hold a séance on her own and try to contact the spirit of Mary. This doesn’t really go as well as maybe she would have hoped (what are the expectation levels of psychics?), and she becomes seemingly possessed by a spirit.
Michelle (now under otherworldly guidance) drives off from the house in the middle of the night, and when Mark and Andy realise she is gone they search the house to no avail. But watching the live feed on the monitors they see Michelle walking through the corridors at the hospital.
When they arrive at the hospital they find Michelle under some sort of trance, and while there all sorts of strange and unexplained things begin to occur. Michelle is taken back to the family home where she enters a deep almost coma-like state.
Now instead of calling it a day and saying “ well you know Michelle is all like in a coma and possessed, so maybe we should hold fire for now”, Andy decides to push on at speed with the project. This is probably due to the fact that he is employed by and lives in the shadow of Michelle’s rich father and Andy wants to stand on his own to feet, even if the project is now putting Michelle’s life at risk!
Now where to start? Well firstly let me begin with the title of the film and in particular the use of the word Paranormal. This week alone here at UKHS towers I have received no less than three feature films with the word Paranormal starting the films title. Now does this mean anything? Well yes , it basically means this will be a film where ghosts and spirits are in some way involved and there will be scenes where the camera will spin round showing the face of a ghost and a jump-scare then will occur.
By putting THAT word in the title then yes you will draw fans of Paranormal Activity AND google searches may bring your film up BUT it just feels like every man , woman and director is jumping on this bandwagon and immediately the film starts to lose it’s originality and it’s USP.
Anyway enough of that , maybe it is just another (on the ever increasing list) bugbear of mine?
Paranormal Asylum – The Revenge of Typhoid Mary is a low budget horror. You know from the start what is going on and along the way various scenes are played out and ghosts appear blah blah blah. But wait. About 40 minutes into the film something changes and the film takes some turns. The contacts that Andy and Mark have met and conversed with start dying, Michelle becomes increasingly obtuse and Mark is seemingly becoming influenced by Evelin (Grace Evans) who is an expert on Mary and the hospital.
Now the film goes from being your usual run-of-the-mill low budget scare film to a genuinely interesting and enjoyable film. There are plenty of great scares along the way and some really jump out moments, but interspersed with this is moments of true hilarity. I am unsure whether the laughs I found were actually meant, but I just loved the over the top acting , the absurd situations and especially the way that Mark and Andy could see THE most remarkable spirit action and just almost ignore it and not even mention it to each other .
Paranormal Asylum is about 15 minutes too long and a bit slow in the first half, but once it finds it’s feet hold on for a great, fun and scary ride. And can I just say the pay-off at the end was brilliant and I loved it!
Ideally Paranormal Asylum should be watch with company , perhaps have a beer or two and sit back to enjoy a damn fun film. A great debut from director Nimrod Zalmanowitz (what a awesome name Nimrod is) and I will be certainly looking out for his work again in the future and there is a lot of talent on show here despite the budgetary restraints.
A well deserved and recommended 7/10