❉ With a swift and simple hook, this clever mock-documentary has cult status pegged all over it writes Nick Clement.
“In a tricked-out hearse, podcasters Barry Dodds and Ian Boldsworth decide to take a road trip, with the paranormal-obsessed Dodds and hardened skeptic Boldsworth attempting to prove to the world that ghosts do in fact exist on this planet, and more specifically, in the United Kingdom…”
Spawned from a very popular British podcast which debuted five years ago, The ParaPod Movie : A Very British Ghost Hunt serves as a fun continuation for fans of creators Barry Dodds and Ian Boldsworth, and an entertaining warm-up (or one-off) for uninitiated viewers. Slight yet still consequential enough, this clever and very, very wink-wink item has future cult status pegged all over it, and in this current day and age of streaming content galore, should find a healthy and robust ancillary life, picking up new fans from all over, along the way.
The comedic style favoured by Dodds and Boldsworth is inviting and casually comical, and because they have undeniable chemistry, you’re game to hang out with these guys as if they were your buddies. And because the film is operating on a couple of storytelling levels all at once, there’s a level of ambition to the production that kicks everything up a notch.
The film carries a swift and simple hook. In a tricked-out hearse, the two guys decide to take a road trip, with the paranormal-obsessed Dodds and hardened skeptic Boldsworth attempting to prove to the world that ghosts do in fact exist on this planet, and more specifically, in the United Kingdom. While watching the film, I often wondered what the podcast might be like to experience, and having enjoyed the movie, I’m now more than curious to check out the original incarnation of the story.
The film carries a mock-documentary format to a certain degree, which adds a nice formal texture to the proceedings, and as with most British comedy, the humour comes at the viewer in quick, dry bursts, with an overall tone that leans on sly sarcasm, but also manages to be genuinely jumpy in a couple of key moments, which makes the entire piece feel all the more resonant.
Both actors excel at playing precisely the roles that the script requires, and yet, because of their unfamiliarity to me, they don’t feel as if they are truly “acting,” but rather, they are just “who they are,” and we’re along for the ride. The film also knows when to be funny, and when to be scary, and because the filmmakers are talented enough to know how to strike that fine balance of the elements, The ParaPod Movie: A Very British Ghost Hunt, despite an odd title, has the chance to break-out and find success in unlikely corners and audience sectors.
Given that Boldsworth served as the film’s co-star, director, co-writer, and Dodds’ involvement extends from acting to co-writing, there’s a true sense of camaraderie that can be felt, an almost-odd-couple-esque vibe that gives way to a nice emotional undercurrent. And while the budget had to have been small, craft contributions from composer Thomas van der Ree and editor Simon Gibbs are notably strong.
❉ The ParaPod – A Very British Ghost Hunt is coming to cinemas this September and on VOD 27th September: theparapod.com. Cast: Ian Boldsworth, Barry Dodds. Director: Ian Boldsworth. Producer: Bil Bungay. Run Time: 108 mins. Rating: 15.
❉ Nick Clement is a journalist for Variety Magazine and motion picture screenplay consultant, as well as a critic for websites We Are Cult and Back to the Movies. He wrote the introduction to the book Double Features: Big Ideas in Film, which was published by The Great Books Foundation, and is currently working on a book about the life and work of filmmaker Tony Scott. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.