DVD Review – Paranormal Island
Category : DVD Review
Director: Marty Murray
I’ve looked around, and I’m not the first to mention this when critiquing Paranormal Island, but it’s such a giant, horrible, stupid distraction that it deserves extra attention: this film claims that a straight beats a flush. Now, a little context. To explain how a particular island got to be so damned paranormal, audiences are transported back in time to an era of unobstructed crime. Two men gamble in a bar built in the middle of a lake, forfeiting deeds to property as ante. Well, one man lays down a flush, thinking that he’s won. The other, with coy leisure, lays down a straight and speaks the following line; “a straight still beats a flush”. The man with the straight takes the pot, while the man with the flush kills himself out of frustration. After watching this scene, I spent unnecessary minutes trying to convince myself that I was wrong, that I was missing something, that straights really do beat flushes, or that maybe the second man cheated a dimwitted first man. I never was able to qualify the situation and, really, it doesn’t matter, as the entire movie that followed this introduction was as pointless and idiotic as the opening scene hinted it would be.
Mike is an attractive, young grad student working on his thesis. He’s been in college seemingly forever, and is ready to finish his research, write his paper, and enter the “real world”. Ironically, his study is on just that, the real world vs a suspected paranormal one. Mike believes in the facts, and the fact that paranormal activity is so rarely captured on film in this modern age convinces him that all the stories are, as he puts it, B.S. So Mike sets out to find a haunted locale, film himself there, interview the locales, and “prove” his theory, that ghosts & curses & spooks & legends & hauntings just aren’t real, that people are just plain stupid, and that he, with his college degree, can show them all the light.
He gets his opportunity one summer in very lucky fashion. Looking for a job, Mike contacts his cousin, who happens to own a bar on an island in the middle of a lake. Also, the island happens to be haunted, or so they say. So Mike takes the job as a bartender for the summer, hoping to make a little money and finish his thesis at the same time. Along for the ride come his best friend Jerry and his college buddy Lori, both of whom are looking forward to drinking more than to actually working. But things are about to get weird out on the island, where a ghost is definitely staying, where danger lurks after dark for anyone dumb enough to stay at the bar, and where last calls have never been so final.
I’ve seen two different covers/posters for this film, and judging by them you might expect bikini-clad vixens running, tropical islands haunting, skulls smiling, and Lance Henriksen creeping everyone out. None of that is exactly accurate. The beginning of the film (after the insanely erroneous poker scene) does feature a few girls in bikinis, as well as a few good-looking guys shirtless. It all starts out a bit like an American Pie movie, with the punk/rock music, boys driving trucks, a summer to go wild, and a hitch in the plan. Sarah Karges is a model as well an as actress, Briana Evigan a successful dancer, so there’s no shortage of eye candy as the film begins, with co-eds taking shots, making out, flashing their goods, and generally living up to every stereotype you can imagine of a 20-year-old frat kid.
But that’s where anything positive ends. The best and only decent scene comes when the boys get caught ogling Ivy, a townie bartender, a scene in which there’s actually a little clever dialogue and, of course, a near-perfect body to view. And then that’s it. The rest is a mix of terrible moments, eye-gougingly awful moments, and moments when you just want to give up on life. There is no island, just a bar where someone apparently died once. There are no skulls or ghouls, just the world’s worst apparition effect appearing right after any character leaves any room. There are no hotties running around, just a tease at the beginning before everyone puts on sweatshirts. And even Lance Henriksen only pops up for a bit and then disappears, making everything you might expect to come out of this film a complete illusion. Paranormal Island quickly turns into a game of nonsensical hide-and-seek with a ghost that can’t seem to catch anyone, morons who squint to see better in the moonlight, and urban legends that come to life, even if you’d rather they just stay dead.
Video – The DVD was done in Widescreen format. There are no other details or options available, and the picture quality is bad enough to make a search for more information seem fairly pointless. The special effects were equally terrible, some of the worst you will ever see from a “real” movie.
Audio – The disc was done in English Dolby 5.1. There are no other audio options or choices in the menu, and the sound quality is lacking anything that might pique your interest or make an impression of any kind. From the music to the effects, the audio is just another disaster.
Extras – There are no extras or bonus features.
Skip It. Paranormal Island is one of the worst movies that I have ever seen. And I don’t say that lightly, although I know sensational reviews attract more attention than middle-of-the-road ones. It’s just the truth; this is a horrendous movie. The only positive was the cast, which looked good and wasn’t completely untalented. But it was as if they were running around a bar making their lines up as they went, pretending to be scared of a crappy image that would be added in post-production. Where was the director when every scene crashed and burned? Was he drunk when he made this movie, or just non-present, and which would make more sense? Ghosts scaring party-goers, lights going out, people wandering around in the dark as if they can’t see the hand in front of their faces but leaping over docks as if it’s broad daylight; this is a movie that doesn’t warrant any brain power trying to figure out just what exactly went wrong. The video, audio, extras; all bad or non-existence, adding to the ugly truth that will be this film’s only legacy.
☆ – Content
☆ ☆ – Video
☆ ☆ – Audio
☆ – Extras
☆ – Replay