Studio: Fangoria Presents
Director: Steve Stone
Writer: Steve Stone
Producer: Steve Stone, Rob Speranza
Stars: Dervla Kirwan, Charlotte Riley, Branko Tomovic, Rupert Hill, Oliver Jackson, Michael David Worden
Followed by the crew of a paranormal reality TV show, a psychic searches an abandoned building in Russia where 34 bodies were found dead under mysterious circumstances.
“Entity” asks the question, what if a “found footage” paranormal investigation story was presented as more of a traditional film narrative instead of strictly as “found footage?” The answer is, it would still be two acts worth of people walking around an abandoned building followed by a predictable finale laced with loud noises and supernatural clichés.
Traditionally staged scenes bring advantages that “found footage” cannot achieve and vice versa. Bridging the two formats together can create a unique storytelling frame, but “Entity” capitalizes on neither technique. “Entity” is missing a sense of how to employ its “found footage” effectively, often editing in such shots unnecessarily. For instance, during a montage sequence of hiking through the woods, several seconds of first-person footage showcasing the actors’ backs find themselves shoehorned inexplicably in the middle. It sparks a question of what the director and/or editor thought was being added by including such shots seemingly at random.
A common complaint with “found footage” is that discerning any identifiable figures among the digital static of jumbled handheld images is a challenge in its own right. “Entity” can leap this hurdle yet chooses to go the same route in similar circumstances. When paranormal danger strikes these characters, the camera switches to grainy, shaky night vision shots of shadowed shapes and pixilated imagery. What is the point of staging scenes with both cinematic styles if the problems of “found footage” are going to be embraced anyway? The stylistic mix starts to look like less of an artistic angle and more of an inability to decide between the two formats.
“Entity” was already at risk of being ordinary and run-of-the-mill with its well-trod story of a supernatural haunting. In the 1980’s, 34 unidentified bodies were found in a remote Siberian forest. With the official investigation long abandoned, a paranormal reality TV show has enlisted a psychic to help them uncover the truth behind those deaths. That truth soon leads the intrepid team out of the forest and into an abandoned industrial building where strange visions and voices begin plaguing the crew. If you have seen any one of the dozens of horror films that start with this premise, then you already know how the rest of the story goes.
Actors Branko Tomovic, Dervla Kirwan, and Charlotte Riley are very good and authentically believable as the three leads comprising the investigative team. The other two actors are less so, but their characters are no more than fodder to round up the number of bodies in the group. “Entity” also has a solid production aesthetic going for it as well. The cool blue hues and light shafts down darkened hallways provide a haunting look. It is unfortunate that more was not done with the cast and the location other than to create a film that has been done before.
Even at less than 90 minutes, the film is still long and slow. In part that is due to already being well aware of how everything will play out. The dullness is also due to the fact that “Entity” does not fill its slow moments with any sustainable tension. Scares are strictly of the loud audio and jump cut variety, which is not much of a surprise given how cut-and-paste the rest of the film is from the paranormal haunting movie formula.
Had “Entity” not lost itself in the gimmickry of “found footage” trappings or had it opted for a more creative script to fit in its storytelling frame, it would have stood a better chance of not being lost in the mire of “been there, done that.” It might also have improved by being pure “found footage” or just abandoning that vein entirely. But fusing the two together cannot mask the mediocrity of everything that lies beneath. Even with one of the better casts and production looks for the sub-genre, “Entity” is still just another asylum investigation movie. This one just happens to have an identity crisis, too.
Review Score: 45