The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill (2013): FrightFest Review

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Paranormal diaries clophill

The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill (2013)

(15) Running time: 88 minutes

Directors: Michael Bartlett, Kevin Gates

Writer: Kevin Gates (story)

Cast: Michael Bartlett, Kevin Gates, Craig Stovin, Criselda Cabitac

Reviewed by: Kirsty Wavish

From the makers of The Zombie Diaries comes the chilling British horror documentary, The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill. The film made its debut at this year’s Film4 FrightFest and has been compared with the likes of Ghost Watch and Lake Mungo.

The story focuses on the ruins of a church in the small English village of Clophill. In March 1963, a black mass was held within the ruins of the church and tombs were desecrated and animals sacrificed during the macabre ritual. Fifty years on, following numerous reports of strange apparitions since that infamous ceremony, an investigative film crew assembled to interview eyewitnesses and set up camp within the church ruins. The film crew decide to spend the night at the ruins in the hope of capturing some of the paranormal activity previously reported and document some interesting events!!

Paranormal diaries

This isn’t found footage, but filmed in true documentary style, with before and after interviews from the investigative crew. Although I thought this would make for easier viewing, knowing that no one lost their life in the making of the documentary, it didn’t, and there were moments of true petrification as we watched them conduct their investigation during the early hours of the morning in and around a creepy church!

For the first two thirds of the film, we see an actual genuine documentary as we see preliminary interviews with the crew, who then head on over to the village of Clophill to interview the locals and meet some of the people who had witnessed the creepy goings on at the church ruins, including accounts of black magic, ghostly sightings and ritualistic behaviour. They then spend an evening at the church ruins with other genuine paranormal “professionals” who carry out various different methods of communicating with the spirit world. I did get worried here that it was going down a route that I tend to struggle with. I have a genuine interest with the paranormal, but I’m on the fence in terms of being a believer, and some of these methods I just find a bit far-fetched. So, I was relieved when the crew regrouped later to discuss the credibility of these methods and decide to spend the night at the church ruins themselves.

With the final segment of the documentary, it was easy to forget that it was fictional in some places, as the scene had been set and you could easily be forgiven for thinking that all the events captured were 100% real! After the documentary had finished, the film crew attended for a Q&A and revealed that 90% was real, including certain “noises”, feelings they experienced whilst filming and certain findings during their investigation. Events captured on film were infrequent, subtle and frightening, and the tension deliciously builds to the point of petrification, particularly when all members of the crew spend 10 minutes on their own in an area of heightened paranormal activity!


What I loved most about this documentary was that it brought something new and refreshing to the paranormal genre. It wasn’t over the top and predictable, and for that reason, it was easy to settle into it and not think about where the shocks would take place, as if you were watching a 100% real life documentary on TV. The market seems to have been saturated once again with found footage films, but I strongly believe The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill holds its own and is an interesting watch. I certainly won’t be visiting the village of Clophill anytime soon!

The documentary is due for release on DVD complete with special features on 14 October 2013, courtesy of Second Sight.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

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