Review: The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill


The found footage scene in horror has truly exploded, with a vast amount of releases each year. Many are simply a failed attempt at cheap scares but with a simple plot and an intriguing location, TPD manages to capture the essence of great British horror.

The film takes place in Bedfordshire, England, where Clophill church lies. It's a derelict ruin that dates back to the 15th century, and according to the 'research' was the scene of a black mass in 1963.

For the first 40-50 minutes we are slowly introduced to the team that are going to be investigating the paranormal occurrences at the site, in a true documentary fashion they talk about the history of the site and have various accounts and interviews with the locals to help with credibility. Personally I thought this was a nice opener albeit a little corny at times but with some genuine acting, a handful of the stories themselves are truly chilling.

If like me you are fascinated with derelict buildings, Clophill church will seem like a gold mine to you, sat proudly on the top of a hill with little or no surroundings, with a vivid imagination you can only wonder what may or may not have happened there in the past. It certainly makes for one hell of a setting at night that's for sure and would I really have the minerals to be walking around there with nothing but a camera and a torch?....I highly doubt it! 

As soon as the investigation is taking place and the crew have only but limited light and each other the tension really does start to build and is also a perfect opportunity to showcase why found footage films can be so effective, sometimes there can literally be nothing on screen to deliver any scares but the tension and anticipation can be that strong that it makes for a real uneasy ride, TPD excels at this and without giving too much away actual jump scares are kept to a minimum, but believe me your imagination will fill in the gaps...mine did! A particular admiration goes to the scene where each investigator has to stand on their own in front of a night vision camera, I have no doubt that this scene was as tense to film as what I felt to watch it!

If you are familiar with any of the paranormal investigation programmes that riddle the internet/TV then you will recognise the methods used here (EVP, spirit boxes, night vision cameras) and so on. With the docu-style first half of the film this furthers the real feel of TPD and its clear that every detail has been given some thought, in fact I wouldn't be surprised if some of the investigators were legitimate paranormal fanatics.

Overall TPD : Clophill is a solid entry in to the found footage sub-genre. It takes a serious approach in its delivery and directors Michael Bartlett/Kevin Gates have made a solid believable project! Don't expect jump scares every 10 seconds as this isn't that sort of film, its tense and plays on the mind. My recommendation, watch it on your own, get the sound on high and turn the lights out......good luck sleeping.

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