PARANORMAL PRISON *** USA 2021 Dir: Brian Jagger. 70 mins
Based around a closed prison – apparently due to structural damage plus increased paranormal activity – ‘Paranormal Prison’ is filmed like a TV ghost hunting show, initially featuring various interviews with ex-members of staff and locals.
Matthew (Todd Haberkorn) is the host of a spooky internet channel ‘The Skeptic and the Scientist’ and he is presenting a show based around the abandoned prison in Idaho, currently used as a museum. Matthew and his ‘partner in hauntings’ Sara (Paris Warner) are planing to visit the prison with high-tech scientific paranormal investigation equipment, to see if there really are any entities in the empty building. Sara is the believer and scientist in on the show and Matthew is the skeptic of the title, ready to prove all investigations as fake or explainable.
The team sets out – with their other crew members Jacob (Brian Telestai) and Ashley (Corryn Treadwell) – as the last film crew to investigate the prison, the previous seventeen finding no evidence of anything ghostly.
The rest of film is made in a shaky, handheld cam kind of way, just like the majority of the popular ghost hunting TV shows all across most of the lower budget television channels available in the UK.
The Skeptic crew are shown around the prison by Park Ranger/Prison security Shtog (Easton Lay) who explains to them about the rumours around the hauntings and then the team are taken around the building before it’s due to be demolished to build condos. He goes into detail about Mary Beth Blake (Amanda Finch) an ex-inmate who haunts the buildings carrying a bouquet of four red roses.
As the sun goes down, random noises in the buildings start to occur and the team of intrepid investigators begin to get more and more creeped out as they start to hear and see things in the various buildings, firstly in the ‘drop-room’, where the hanging of prisoners takes place, then in the laundry room where they see a shadow on the playback.
The film is well made for the style that is looking at capturing and the soundtrack is suitably eerie to add to the whole atmosphere. But like many of the TV shows that it looks to copy, there are little encounters for most of the film, but plenty of noises and increasing shrieking team members as the recording progresses.
The tension does build, the acting is quite believable and overall not a bad example of what can be done on a low budget.
Review by Ian Carroll