The characters unwittingly unleashing an entity driven by instinctive anger is the foundation of most haunted house movies. With a tight budget and filmed in a Shot-on-Video (SOV) fashion, the production quality is deliberately substandard, as if Paralyzed with Fear is a rollicking effort to imitate the building blocks of an ’80s SOV horror film (See: The Ripper, Blood Cult). Whilst the visuals are grossly distracting and unconvincing, the heft of the film is assembled by campiness. The horror gambits are certainly made to scare by design, but the execution churns out chuckles instead of frights. Alon Kaplan’s chilling piano score occasionally builds to a brash chorus, sometimes to a fault as the dialogue can get muddled, even so, it’s enjoyably inflated.
“…grossly distracting and unconvincing, the heft of the film is assembled by campiness.”
Kane Hodder’s Chemock takes center stage as the malefic demon, and a minor touch-up to his appearance could’ve made the terror all the more appealing. The thing is, Hodder doesn’t look like he belongs in the 15th century, a buttoned-up shirt and a painted face just won’t do it. And somebody gives this man a mask. He knows how to wear one. Nevertheless, Hodder is having fun with the role. When assigned to do so, the small cast is able to emote the melodramatic depth they’re given. Haidyn Harvey’s Hannah gets lost in the power of Chemock, dangerously certain he can’t possibly be a nefarious demon (that changes, of course). Andrea Rabold’s Kathryn is glued to the bed because of her current disability, forced to use her oscillating eyes and raucous screams to emit fear (if the disability didn’t paralyze her, the fear would’ve). Lauren von Engeln’s Jennifer is Kathryn’s sister, and she remains the levelheaded one determined to halt this spirit hokum.
Glenn Berggoetz’s Paralyzed with Fear is a trip back to the ’80s, where SOV low-budget horror films were seen on fuzzy VHS tapes. Chemock, the evil spirit, occasionally acts out of the ordinary, and his barbaric history isn’t fully translated into this current reality. There’s no avoiding the fact that more could’ve been done with Kane Hodder’s character. While it may not be scary or completely fulfilling (the concept of Chemock could’ve been more deeply explored), Paralyzed with Fear is still suitably absurd and tonally aware.
"…is still suitably absurd and tonally aware. "