Director: Marty Murray III
Writer: Marty Murray III
Producer: Marty Murray III
Stars: Briana Evigan, Randy Wayne, Ben Elliott, Sarah Karges, Ashley Lobo, Eva Murray, Joe Farina, Lance Henriksen
A group of college kids become stranded on a haunted island where they are bartending for the summer.
When does a straight beat a flush in five-card poker? When it’s an erroneous plot point kickstarting the story of “Paranormal Island,” a supernatural thriller so tired, tiring, and tiresome that the only way to win this battle of boredom is with a flush of a different variety.
After his diamonds lose to that straight, Blarney Island’s sad sack caretaker Sam also loses his deed to the land. While the rival bar owner snickers, probably for hoodwinking Sam and the scriptwriter into misremembering the rules of cards, Sam shoots himself in the head and somehow becomes a vengeful ghost, cursed to haunt the island for many decades to come.
Flash forward from 1927 to 2014. Annoying college kid Mike and his obnoxious buddy Jerry are on their way to Blarney Island with nondescript gal pal Lori for a summer bartending job. They meet up with townie/coworker Ivy and board a boat captained by disinterested old skipper Carl. Cue the meaningless montage of smiles, laughs, and playful screams while pretending to be thrown overboard set to a generic party rock song!
Following confusing cuts where time of day changes so often that mismatched color correction can be chalked up to a post-production editor simply shrugging in surrender, the group arrives on the island for their first night of work, which involves personally participating in the partying more than it does facilitating it. Cue the meaningless montage of drink pouring, shot gulping, fist pumping, and drunken revelry set to another bland music track!
Mike inadvertently insults career drink-slinger Ivy while espousing the virtues of college and aspiring to a “real job” as everyone shoots the breeze after their shift. When fit hits the shan later, Mike makes an apology along the lines of, “sorry about what I said earlier” and there you have the beginning and the end of the film’s dead-end character development. There’s even less to say about Mike’s bro Jerry, who consumes more of the bar’s alcohol than he dispenses, makes out with his bikini-topped cohorts when he should be working, and generally reads as an unlikeable douchebag thanks partly to the James Franco eye slits he puts on his face with each contemptible smile.
Eventually, the core quartet ends up seemingly alone on the island when the power goes out, characters creep around slowly, poorly rendered apparitions appear in reflections, and additional humdrum paranormal activity occurs. Then people are either pulled away into shadows or the camera cuts to black as each death takes place offscreen or is obscured by impenetrable darkness. Mike and the others make a halfhearted effort to unravel the haunting and survive, but the script has already given up on giving them a meaningful mystery to solve by simply offering the poker game prelude and leaving it at that.
The pull of “Paranormal Island” is presumably its Lance Henriksen title billing, making the movie another low-budget indie relying on its “we have a fan-favorite actor featured for five minutes” crutch to make it of remote interest to gullible horror fans. Unfortunately for “Paranormal Island,” and more unfortunately for Henriksen, the actor has rented himself out to so many bit parts in B-movie bombs that his name recognition currently carries a value slightly above Eric Roberts and slightly below Danny Trejo in a genre vet triumvirate making more movie appearances than any one person can reasonably see.
“Paranormal Island” scores one star out of five, though finding justification for even that one star is a questionable task. For lack of any superior reason, let’s simply say it is for Briana Evigan. Her performance as sassy, salty, and sultry townie girl Ivy is as convincing as the uninteresting script allows it to be, though that certainly isn’t reason enough to see the movie. Actually, when it comes to “Paranormal Island,” reasons to see the movie have quite a bit in common with ghosts and with flush-beating poker straights: they don’t exist.
Review Score: 20