The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - PARANORMAL FARM 2 | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review (VOD) - PARANORMAL FARM 2

paranormal farm 2 review
Meta sequel to the 2017 found footage thriller.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Carl Medland

Starring: Lucy French, Robert Gray, Carl Medland, Darren Earl Williams

paranormal farm 2 poster

First, some context for the PFU (Paranormal Farm uninitiated): a few weekends ago, I had company of an evening. In the small hours, feeling sketchy, and as is the wont of horror fans, we were scrolling through the genre sections of Netflix, Prime, etc. I tend to like Prime the best as it has trailers, and, thus, we happened upon the trailer for a film called Paranormal Farm. The apply-a-prefix/suffix-from-an-established-brand-and-hope-it-fools-them exploitation sub-genre tickles me: Flight of the Living Dead, AVH: Alien Vs. Hunter, and, yes, Paranormal Farm (preceded by Paranormal Entity). I mean, I don’t actually sit around and watch them if I can help it, but the shamelessness is cute and also in keeping with horror’s essential hucksterism. But, even so. A paranormal farm? What a title: it’s just so bluntly evocative, so just ‘there’. We watched the trailer together and sort of giggled at its oddness, but, you know what? There was something going on in that trailer, something authentically strange. Later, when I had the house back to myself I knocked on the film proper. In the following days, when I was enthusing to all and sundry about how much I enjoyed Paranormal Farm, people tried to make sense of the plot as I relayed it: ‘so, are the animals being haunted?’, they’d say, in the sort of tone normally reserved for a small child, ‘or are the animals doing the haunting?’. Neither, I would reply; it’s about a ghost that moves a doll about, some grief-stricken parents, a weird clown-mask wearing cult and the spiritualist-cum-medium who captures it all on film. After a while, when real people began to ignore me when I started banging on again about Carl Medland’s (writer, director, star) masterpiece, I turned to twitter to express my joy for the film. And lo: I caught the attention of the man himself, @carlmedland, who reached out with the offer of a screener for his new film: Paranormal Farm 2. Would a sequel extend or besmirch the delight of the original? After all, Citizen Kane never required a sequel, nor did E.T. or Taxi Driver. But perhaps, in keeping with the adventurous spirit of Carl’s character within both films, what is life without a little risk? And so here we are…

paranormal farm 2 review

[SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST PARANORMAL FARM FOLLOW]

At the end of Paranormal Farm 2’s predecessor, Carl, the documentary film-maker who has visited the nominative farm - a homestead manned by a strange older couple who populate the ground with creepy mannequins, and mourn the death of their daughter (in one of the film’s authentically creepy touches, the kid’s bedroom indeed looks like it hasn’t been touched or tidied since the late '90s, with posters of Sheryl Crow et al still adorning the wall) - with designs to capture paranormal footage, is, in a development which is genuinely jarring following the amiable amateurism which heralds it, killed to appease a primordial beast who lives in the woods. The family (plot twist: the daughter is not dead after all) then cook Carl in a mince and eat him.

So, it is something of a surprise to see Carl alive and kicking in this sequel, this time with his oppo Mumtaz Yildirimlar, cheerfully travelling back to the farm to see Lucy and Darren again. It turns out that the film we all saw and loved earlier in the year was, within the universe of this sequel, a drama! Mere fiction! And so, Carl has returned to the Devonshire farm in order to film some extra footage and BTS stuff for Paranormal Farm’s upcoming DVD release (!) META. It gets more mindy-bendy. The opening of this film is a hot off the press take on the first, as Carl and Mumtaz show Lucy and Darren (eponymously played by Lucy French and Darren Earl Williams with such supreme, beguiling awkwardness that I am not entirely sure they are actually in on the joke) the Amazon Prime cut, along with reading out the actual reviews of the film too, which are generally unkind (ridicule is nothing to be scared of, Carl). Fairly soon, the same sort of spooky nonsense begins to start up again. But this time for real?

paranormal farm 2 review

And it is nonsense. Masks, paedo neighbours, cults, found footage jolts; Carl’s camera captures it all with no discernment. But it is also creepy. The rawness of it all, the discomforting verisimilitude. Take Lucy’s face, for instance, which bears visible, actual scars. Whatever the circumstances behind the blemishes are, and however closely they cleave to the story of a car crash offered in a film, the experience was probably very painful. But yet, the actress selflessly offers them up as part of the weird narrative of the film, queasily blending the lines between what is real and is not. Likewise, when Lucy drops to all fours and play acts with her dogs, barking and growling, I’m unsure if it is a scripted move or something that Lucy just happens to do; the effect is that odd behaviour is imbued with this extra patina of strangeness. And, however scathing the Prime comments of Carl’s acting in the predecessor were, it takes a special commitment to generate goose-bumps as Medland does during a stalky bit in the woods: ‘I’ve got goose-bumps, look!’. You wonder, is narrative being weaved out of thin air? For instance, have Lucy and Darren’s delightful Jack Russells been trained to fight, or, more likely, did Medland just happen to catch them doing it and build entire plot points from it?

paranormal farm 2 review

I have no idea. But I do know that I am utterly serious in my love for these films (although, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how serious Carl himself is when he makes them…). There is a triumphant, outsider art glow to both Farms, shining like the phantasmagorical radiance of the films’ night-vision sequences, capturing eerie things like the evil glare of a pony’s eye. It is rare to watch something so brilliantly (accidentally?) weird, and so faithfully sinister, too. The head spinning manipulation of several planes of reality is the film’s real genius, running the gamut from taking the piss and scaring you shitless. A chilling thought: have I, by posting this superlative review, and by discussing it in a public forum, contributed to the ongoing Paranormal Farm mythology, inadvertently placing myself within the meta feedlots and self-referencing meadows of Lucy and Darren’s estate? YIKES!

Paranormal Farm 2 is on VOD now.


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