"Beyond Paranormal," Behind Humility
Taking a fast jog through a true oddity.
Maybe I should have watched Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth instead…
For fans of decapitations, Beyond Paranormal does indeed deliver, sharing at least this one feature with the most recent Shakespeare adaptation. Of course, not all head choppings are created equal, and there is indeed a gulf between the two versions of the one extreme act. Beyond Paranormal shouldn’t be rated the same way as Macbeth, but a kind comparison of its horror to another? It fits in volumes.
Such vulgar audacity is on display in this pure oddity of ideas and absolute confusion. For starters, the contrast of the title “Beyond Paranormal” with the premise, a couple recording their scary domestic hauntings with camcorders and the like for a production crew and online audience, suggests a smugness and overconfidence that only opens itself up for ripe ridicule. They’re “beyond” any “paranormal activity,” and any similarities with other movies are purely coincidental. I don’t technically blame the filmmakers for trying this, as it is but one of many bold chances they take. However, sometimes you win, sometimes you… well, you make Beyond Paranormal.
There are times when the genre of the film itself isn’t completely clear, with scenes and tones that just don’t click. There’s a new media producer - some wealthy-ish wannabe mogul with bling in his teeth - who is totally overblown and obnoxious and off-key. The boyfriend, a writer with a penchant for strange visions of a waking life that’s so nonsensical it becomes a joke of its own, shifts moods from one scene to the immediate next, going from supportive and kind to drunk and aggressive. And the conspiracy/mythology plot of future primitives time-traveling through impregnation (I think) is just too much. Too hot to handle, too cold to hold, Beyond Paranormal has multitudes alright, and none of them add up to anything but exhaustion and irritation.
Despite never knowing what the movie is doing or where the story is at (don’t worry, because it’s “beyond paranormal!” Spooky!), the film does have at least two “saving graces,” with one being pretty memorable. The girlfriend, a struggling Youtuber actress who takes on a gig of recording her life and preparations for her next role, round the clock in her home, is played with an interesting ferocity by Cortney Palm. Sometimes there’s a bad reading or two, but no matter how awkward, it plays into her character of a somewhat vapid and all the way vulnerable woman seeking stardom and attention. Even when doing over-the-top spirit possession, she leans into the energy full blast. In a production this weird and poor, that’s gutsy.
And for that memorable or “iconic” thing that Beyond Paranormal has? Well, if one can make it through to the ending, you’ll know it when you see it. Troma, eat your heart out. Literally.
Where Tragedy of Macbeth and Beyond Paranormal likely differ in the decapitation department is where I can properly describe the folly and the fun of this whole ordeal. Both stories use their moments of high bloody terror as a sort of comeuppance, but only one movie, Beyond Paranormal, does it mostly to show off. “Look what I just did!” as if to say. Like a dog bringing a dead bird, in its mouth, into the family home. A gift that nobody wants or asked for, but it’s there in its filthy and gross truth.
What a shame.
Beyond Paranormal is currently available on-demand.