WriterBy Steve Higgins
The ParaPod Movie Review
Last night Ian Boldsworth and Barry Dodds started their nationwide cinema tour giving listeners of their podcast the chance to see their new paranormal movie. I was lucky enough to be able to snap up a ticket to the sold-out screening of 'The ParaPod Movie'.
The screening took place at the Everyman Cinema in Bristol, a very plush and historic cinema that dates back to 1921 - so it must be haunted. 240 excited fans of the Chortle nominated podcast took a seat on the comfy sofas to watch the first public screening of the film since its London premiere at the start of the year.
Just like the premiere, the film was being shown to a sell-out audience, which is a brilliant indication of success for the movie - especially since Everyman Bristol is the biggest venue that the duo are taking the film to as part of its debut tour and most other cinemas on the tour are sold out too.
I have to admit, my hopes were high for this movie. I loved the original podcast for the dynamic between its hosts. Barry is a firm believer in ghosts, the paranormal, and just about anything else he's told. While Ian is a complete skeptic, and although he might deny this, he does have an interest in the paranormal and a good knowledge of many of the most famous haunting cases.
For this reason the ParaPod really resonated with me. Like Ian, I too am a skeptic with an interest in ghost stories, and I also share Barry's passion for the paranormal. The movie felt even closer to home because I have been to all but one of the paranormal hotspots that featured in the movie looking for spooks myself.
Clearly I was excited, and why shouldn't I be? The ParaPod Movie has been a long time coming, but tonight after three years in the making, I finally got to see it in my home town. So, what was the movie like?
The ParaPod Movie was incredibly watchable, fun and engaging from start to finish.
Obviously I don't want to give the game away by telling you exactly what happens and where they go, but the basic premise is that Ian and Barry travel across the country in the garish, but very cool, PARA1 - a ParaPod branded funeral hearse. In the driving seat, albeit a child's toy one, is Barry who starts them on their journey to Pluckley in Kent. That's right, we actually get to go on Barry's taxi ride.
The village featured in the first series of the podcast, and in 1989 was named the most haunted village in Britain by the Guinness Book of Records. Their trip to Pluckley included a night in the village's infamous "screaming woods," where Barry's world was turned around.
The 108-minute-long film successfully recreated the feel of the podcast series. In fact, the movie is strung together with a retrospective chat between the pair in a podcast studio - this helps to solidify the movie's fluid but very present narrative. The one thing the movie has that the podcast didn't, is the added benefit of being able to see the look on Barry's face at pivotal points in the story.
The movie is genuinely a laugh-out-loud comedy. Especially during the pair's visit to 30 East Drive in Pontefract. The house is said to be home to Europe's most violent poltergeist, but Ian and Barry met something much more terrifying here... Carol Fieldhouse. Carol lives next door to the allegedly haunted house. She's also a psychic and a paranormal investigator herself. She had the audience in Bristol howling as she relayed messages from the spirit world to the "pig-headed" Ian.
Comedy aside, this movie is an exploration of the paranormal. If you've ever listened to the ParaPod, then you won't be surprised or disappointed to know that the duo do mess around a bit at the allegedly haunted locations they visit, but despite this there are some good solid chunks of ghost hunting too.
Barry was of course armed with an array of arguably useless ghost hunting kit, including the popular K-II EMF meter, Ovilus 5 and Boo Buddy Bear - which looks like a normal stuffed toy, but its creators claim it can detect ghosts.
Although delivered through banter and jokes, there was actually a pretty fair balance between believer and skeptic. The film also delves into some deep feelings relating to the stars' differing beliefs. At one point in the movie, Barry experiences what he describes as "the most frightening thing I've seen in my entire life."
You might expect Ian to immediately dismiss this, but because he could see how traumatic the event was for Barry, Ian didn't dispute what Barry experienced at all. In fact Ian came to the conclusion that if Barry has experienced something, then you can't take that away from him, but he was quick to point out that just because he experienced something, doesn't mean it's really paranormal.
This doesn't mean Ian's gone soft. At another of the movie's locations, the Ancient Ram Inn in Gloucestershire, Ian proved that by stopping for a moment to think logically about a situation he was able to disprove what Barry was convinced was the result of paranormal activity. Barry might not like to hear it, but this is the sort of rational thinking any good paranormal investigator should be using.
Later in the movie there's a surprise waiting behind a door in an abandoned farmhouse in Derbyshire for both Ian and Barry, the nature of which remains unexplained, adding weight to Barry's side of the argument.
As a fan of comedy and a skeptic with a passion for the paranormal, I absolutely loved this film and can't wait to watch it again. It combined my love of all things weird with the slightly comical frustration I feel when I see members of the public using false logic to misidentify experiences on public ghost hunting events.
The film is well-paced, gripping, and brilliantly scored throughout by Thomas van der Ree, including fitting re-workings of his familiar ParaPod theme. It's funny, scary in places, and at times emotional, but most of all the tale of two good friends. Oh, and fans of Barry's rituals won't be disappointed either.
At the moment the movie is touring selected cinemas, but if you're a fan of Ian and Barry's work, or just into the paranormal, then this movie really is for you. Make sure you don't miss the chance to see it and laugh along with a cinema audience. Even those who weren't listeners of the podcast who I dragged along to the cinema from the paranormal community loved it, proving that this movie is a standalone success.
Watch The Trailer
Keep Up To Date
To make sure you don't miss out on announcements of upcoming screening dates, and news on digital releases and streaming, make sure you follow @theparapod on Twitter.
That'll keep you up to speed, but if you want to stay ahead of the curve and become part of an exclusive crowd that gets the news first, the best way to make sure you don't miss any updates is to support either Ian or Barry on their Patreon pages. You can get access to these updates, exclusive previews, sneak peeks, deleted scenes and access to ghost hunts from The ParaPod Movie by supporting their work for as little as $1 a month.
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