PARANORMAL PRISON is a new supernatural horror movie in the found footage subgenre. While the movie isn’t without issues along the way, the ending should satisfy any found-footage junkie. Is it worth watching? Read our full Paranormal Prison movie review to find out!

PARANORMAL PRISON is a new supernatural found-footage horror movie. 

Growing up, my brother and I loved watching “Scariest Places on Earth” on television, which likely inspired my love for found-footage films.

And presumably why I continue to watch them, despite the yearly deluge of mediocre installments that dilute the real quality of the subgenre (cf., recent gems, such as Host).

While I was not enamored by Paranormal Prison, it, fortunately, redeemed itself in its final minutes to satisfy any found-footage junkie.

Local ghost hunters just need that one viral video

Paranormal Prison embraces a simple concept: A film crew of amateur ghost hunters visits haunted locations, and they just need that one viral video to set themselves apart (a concept reminiscent of Camp Cold Brook mixed with The Last Broadcast).

Paranormal Prison features the footage of what will be the 36th episode of the internet show, “The Skeptic and the Scientist”. Borrowing from the Mulder-Scully dynamic of The X-Files, Matthew (Todd Haberkorn) is a skeptic and wants to “prove” that ghosts do not exist, but Sara (Paris Warner), a scientist, has designed EMF-type equipment to gather evidence that they do.

Along with their fellow crew members, Ashley (Corynn Treadwell) and Jacob (Brian Telestai), Matthew and Sara visit the state penitentiary in Boise, Idaho, USA. Once a tourist attraction/museum, the penitentiary is now destined for demolition. But “The Skeptic and the Scientist” crew were issued the final permit for on-site overnight filming.

As dawn draws nigh, the film crew realize that perhaps they should not be asking if the penitentiary is haunted… but why.

“No ghosts were intentionally harmed in the making of this movie”

This line of text, appearing in the end-credits, made me smile: I appreciate a film’s disclaimers that make that extra yet underappreciated effort. Unfortunately, this was one of the more enjoyable parts of a film whose quality grew exponentially from beginning to end.

The 66-minute Paranormal Prison was, in effect, a documentary followed by a horror film. Its first 50 minutes did little to scare or intrigue. But its last 16 minutes were filled with admirable jump scares and curious mystery.

If writers Brian Jagger and Randall Reese meant to do this (i.e., first ease then shock the viewer with true elements of a good horror film), then doing so was prolonged, as the film’s majority content focused ultimately on the failed efforts of amateur YouTubers rather than discoveries of a mysterious haunting.

Watch Paranormal Prison on demand February 19, 2021

Pros: (1) Despite a monotony to Sara’s character, Walker succeeded in her role, as did Haberkorn in his. Keep tabs on Walker; she has “scream-queen” potential. (2) Given the initial overly slow burn, the first jump-scare at ~55 minutes did its job quite well.

Other cons: (1) Abandoned prisons are inherently creepy, but previous found-footage films have done more to capture such horror (Entity). (2) Ineffective attempts at character development, with Sara and Ashley revealing their deeply sentimental reasons for ghost-chasing without there being other instances of backstory or depth.

Overall, while Paranormal Prison attempts a genre-bending found-footage installment, its final minutes could only do so much to redeem its unoriginality, ultimately earning 2 of 5 stars. Feel free to have it on in the background.

PARANORMAL PRISON is out in select theaters & VOD on February 19, 2021.

Details

Director: Brian Jagger
Writers: Brian Jagger, Randall Reese
Stars: Todd Haberkorn, Paris Warner, Don Shanks, Corynn Treadwell, Easton Lay, Brian Telestai

Plot

A paranormal investigation YouTube channel is getting ready to shut down if they don’t have a video that goes viral in time. In this last ditch attempt, a long-time mystery is solved.

Cognitive neuroscientist by day, avid horror fan by night, I began writing reviews/recaps for Heaven of Horror in March 2019. I have a particular affinity to found-footage horror, but I truly love all horror subgenres. As a diagnosed sufferer of obsessive-compulsive disorder, horror movies help relieve my anxieties (and apparently, there's some science to support that). My favorite horror films/shows include Let the Right One In, Hell House LLC, Host, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, The Babysitter, The Haunting of Hill House, and so many more. I'm very particular about a film's originality when I write reviews, and I hope to steer y'all in the right directions when it comes to which movies to stream versus skip. Happy viewing!