Steve Stone gets a Fangoria distribution for his directorial debut supernatural horror, Entity. Not bad for your first stab at the film industry eh.
A camera crew for reality TV show ‘Darkest Secrets’, who visit places where unsolved crimes once took place, accompany a psychic to a remote Siberian forest where thirty-four dead bodies were mysteriously found ten years prior. Median Ruth (Dervla Kirwan) reaches out to the troubled, forgotten souls who convey to her the terrible circumstances of their deaths. But the forest is only the beginning. Hoping to shed some light on the cold case, the investigative team think they’ve hit gold when they are unexpectedly led to a shadowy, desolate building by the guiding presence of the spirits. It may be a decent discovery for TV, but when they receive a sinister warning that they shouldn’t be there, the crew begin to disappear one by one. This is the story of their encounter with the entity.
It certainly creates an unnerving atmosphere from the get-go, as the crew walk cautiously around its dark and lifeless corridors. It uses the building’s bump-in-the-night elements as characters walk clumsily into clattering trolleys, and we enter a portal into the soul’s torturous past through the black and white blurred images that Ruth sees. The cursed, harmful memories trapped within its walls cause her to physically deteriorate, which throws a welcome curveball in the narrative and interestingly switches the pressure to the dishonest crew who each have their own hidden agenda.
But it’s not long before the tension collapses and it plummets deliriously out of control. It exercises cheap scares from then onwards and the feeble crew become easy pickings for this supernatural force. The acting is terrible, and the effects are even more so. The immortal images become too accessible and borderline silly, divulging in excessive sci-fi noises and a number of unconvincing monster, alien and ghost-type entities. What starts as a controlled supernatural spook show loses direction and gambles with three too many notions that are all disorderly and fragmented from one another. An hour in and it’s all over the place. A further half an hour on and the film ends midway through the mayhem without a trace of consistency.
The blatant similarities to Grave Encounters in terms of its plot are all too apparent and, as well as failing to surpass GE’s spookiness, it doesn’t come close to competing with its controlled use of night vision camerawork either.
Though found-footage in horror has been as significantly exhausted since the Paranormal Activity franchise spurred a fervent obsession with documentary and homemade recordings, refreshing spin-offs such as Trollhunter, V/H/S and The Bay are still (surprisingly) finding ways to expand the creative corners of the trend’s potential. There’s no doubt another found-footage masterpiece is, or soon will be, loitering in pre-production, and I’ll be readily awaiting its release. But when an appeasing gem comes tottering along, so comes another handful of drab, monotonous garbage to further scratch the record. Thus, the making of a heap more of shoddy ones is even more imminent and, unfortunately, Stone’s efforts mark the latest example of this. It may be unjustly to scrutinize Entity within this subgenre, as its commitment to the handheld camera is merely half-hearted. We are presented with the past happenings of the building through old CCTV recordings, and see some of the horrors through the lens of the crew’s equipment. But conventional camerawork takes precedence more in the latter stages as, well, the camera crew become less present. The switch is certainly annoying and the documentary principle that primarily generates interest instantly falls apart.
If you’d paid little attention to the synopsis or picked up this film as a quick grab-and-go, you may have thought this was a well kept secret remake of 1982 supernatural horror of (almost) the same name. This may well in fact be Stone’s ploy for his first work to attract attention. Unfortunately, no matter what pretention you watch this under, you’re most likely going to be disappointed either way.
VERDICT: Entity adopts a promising look-in from the outset, but fails to withhold sense or scares, thus leading itself astray in a baffling, senseless havoc. Watch the opening and closing scenes and you’ll be pleasantly scared shit-less, but deceptively hopeful about the intervening 80 minutes.