“The process of delving into the black abyss is to me the keenest form of fascination.”
H. P. Lovecraft
It is with this quote that Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill opens. As the makers of found footage zombie fest’s 2006 The Zombie Diaries and its 2011 sequel World of the Dead it would appear on first inspection that the pair have simply swapped one horror fad for another but there is much much more to this film than it seems.
Although appearing to be a faux documentary in the style of Troll Hunter, The Bay or Lake Mungo it turns out that Paranormal Diaries: Clophill is a lot more fact than it is fiction and this is what gives it the innovative edge over so many other movies in this overpopulated genre.
Here are the facts, The Church of St Mary The Virgin in Clophill is estimated to have been built in 1350 but by 1854 it was a derelict unused shell of its former self having proved too small for the congregation who had simply had a new larger church built elsewhere.
According to the 1908 A History of the County of Bedford Vol. 2 “The churchyard possessed the unenviable reputation of being a haunt of body snatchers, and many human bones have been dug up”, but it was many years later that the truly eerie happens occurred on the site.
In 1960 the media widely reported not only graveyard desecrations but black masses being held with various witnesses verifying rituals and devil worship at the site all of which gaining it a reputation as a focus for black magic and Satanism.
With this in mind and stories still being told of apparitions and hauntings Kevin Gates, Michael Bartlett and their two actor friends Criselda Cabitac and Craig Stovin plus a small crew head for the site to see what they can find and film with surprisingly scary results.
Packed with interviews, experts, paranormal experiments, witness accounts and plenty of footage of the haunted site itself Paranormal Diaries: Clophill is presented as a straight documentary and the shocking thing is that a high percentage of it is actually real.
What isn’t is for you to work out yourself and that is what makes the movie work so well as it takes that one step away from a fake horror documentary using a real place and real stories upping the frights and the realism making it all the more scary and let me tell you having interviewed Kevin Gates it will astound you what is fact and what is fiction.
More augmented reality than found footage Cabitac and Stovin who as presenters and interviewers are the main focus of the film and are a real life couple are most definitely not acting during the scenes at Clophill and the fear in their faces as the film moves forwards is obviously genuine as is the terrific tension and foreboding atmosphere that permeates the entire film.
Unfortunately the movies original and intriguing hook is also what allows it to hang itself as the adherence to reality means the fictitious scenes can only go so far which will perhaps not be far enough for some of the audience.
This said Paranormal Diaries: Clophill provides a great new twist on a very over done genre as Lovecraft said it keeps up our fascination into delving into the black abyss much more so than many other films in the same vein have done before.
Read our interview with Director Kevin Gates right Here