Seeking a fresh start away from her abusive ex-boyfriend, Sara (Brooklyn Haley) takes a job cleaning a recently vacant house. Nightmares and déjà vu haunt Sara’s stay as Paranormal Attraction unfolds into a tale of life finding love all through the lens of paranormal horror. With a minimal cast and locations, the film creates a story of dealing with personal and actual demons in this ode to ghostly horror cinema.
Opening just as Sara accepts the cleaning job, Paranormal Attraction quickly establishes elements of Sara’s abusive past along with hints at the house’s murderous history. A series of reoccurring nightmares and strange events lead Sara to enlist the help of Kelly (Eden Shae Beck), her clairvoyant best friend, and Kelly’s stoner boyfriend, Nick (Hunter Johnson). Throughout the series of demonic visions and visits Sara witnesses, she continues to unravel the mysteries of the house while the demon continues to feed on Sara’s own tortured past. Finding solace in a new relationship with Evelyn (Nicole Cinaglia), a local police officer, Sara continues to face off against demonic forces through this twisting narrative.
One of the biggest highlights of the film is what director and co-writer Alexander T. Hwang creates with such a minimal cast and location. The majority of the film takes place within the possessed house and with only the four leads. Hwang uses this spartan approach to build tension throughout the opening of the film and releases that tension with increasingly satisfying resolutions. The truth or dare scene is an excellent example of this use of tautness, as the lighthearted game shifts from good-natured fun to ferocious violence.
“…continues to unravel the mysteries of the house while the demon continues to feed on Sara’s own tortured past.”
Throughout Paranormal Attraction, the cast does a great job conveying terror, as well as selling the budding attraction to each other. Brooklyn Haley and Nicole Cinaglia do a great job of displaying sincerity and even moments of awkwardness in a new relationship. Eden Shea Beck and Haley share a chemistry that adds authenticity to their friendship and thus to the horrors shown on screen.
I consider tension to be the biggest currency in horror films, without which there are no stakes or real scares. Paranormal Attraction somehow finds a way to deliver a compelling love story amid a movie about demonic possession without sacrificing that ever-important intensity. By constantly expanding on these ideas of tension, Hwang is able to create a film that can simultaneously invest the viewer in the beginnings of a romance and keep them on their toes in moments of violence.
Some moments do seem out of place, like the montage of Sara cleaning the house or the barbecue sequence. But each does little to diminish the overall film. The movie may not translate to instant re-watchablility for everyone due to its use of some troupes and twists. Despite a few shortcomings, I would still recommend Paranormal Attraction for fans of occultist horror films such as The Dinner Party or the original Paranormal Activity as this provides a nice cross-section between the brutality and suspense of the two films.
"…ode to ghostly horror cinema."