I don’t think it’s too much to ask for some paranormal activity (pun intended) from a movie with “Paranormal” in the title. Well, Paranormal Investigation has other ideas. Sure, it’s the story of a young adult of ambiguous age being possessed by an evil spirit, but there are zero special effects in this movie. Well, okay, there are SOME, but they’re just the cameras glitching slightly when the possessed guy walks past them, and then a mostly invisible body passing by a camera at the very end. So what else does the movie offer? Well… not much.
This French movie with an English title follows paranormal investigator Andrei as he, well, investigates the possession of a young man named Dylan. After playing with a Ouija board (copyright Hasbro, the company that also owns Monopoly, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic: the Gathering) he apparently becomes possessed, acting like a different, sullen person. The movie follows the usual formula of night vision cameras spread throughout the house and the plot jumping ahead to the important nights. The footage is mostly just Dylan running around his house, occasionally painting German phrases in blood on the dresser in his parents’ bedroom. Like you do. Then right around the hour mark he starts throwing Nazi salutes. Okay… so he’s possessed by a Nazi spirit. Paranormal Investigation really went there. An exorcism later–complete with a shot of the priest arriving that lets the audience know that the director has at least seen the poster for The Exorcist–and Dylan is fine! Until we hear he later set himself on fire and died. Oops. The paranormal activity continues, eventually culminating in Andrei investigating the house alone. He sets down the camera for reasons that are never explained, and then is promptly killed off screen. Someone moves the camera, and then the movie is over.
Hot damn, this movie is a mess. So many pointless moments! Early on, Dylan’s parents are showing Andrei around the house and point out a guest bedroom that is always locked, with no entry permitted. Sounds like Checkov’s gun, right? Nothing comes from this! Andrei doesn’t even try spending the night until, like, 3 weeks in, and even then he’s sleeping on a couch. While investigating the house at the end, bloody footprints lead him to the attic where he finds a door that looks out of place. What’s on the other side? We never find out; he hears a noise outside and investigates that instead! And sure, in a lot of found footage movies I ask why the cameraperson is continuing to film in life-or-death situations, but as someone making a documentary and not fearing for his life, Andrei putting his camera on the ground so that he could go inside the haunted house and die off screen makes no sense. Except that the director (no writers are credited) wanted him to die in the cheapest way possible.
But you know what the movie did have? A gay undercurrent! Nothing concrete enough to warrant a “queer subtext” tag (I debated that for a while), but Andrei and Dylan are close. Very close. When Dylan isn’t possessed there’s a lot of smiles and hand holding. And while the Nazi ghost (sigh) is in control, he has some kind of mind control powers over Andrei. Is it intentional? Probably not. Am I reaching? Quite possibly. But you can’t stop me from imagining that the two actors are a couple. Let me take something enjoyable from this mess, god damn it!
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