Following 3.5 million podcast downloads and sold-out live shows, The ParaPod now has the honour of becoming the first podcast to be turned into a film, thanks to its devoted fans providing crowdfunding financing. Three years in the making, the movie enjoyed a sell-out premiere and fan screenings back in early 2020 and was scheduled to tour independent cinemas before the pandemic struck. Finally, it is now set to receive a much wider and well-deserved release, heading to UK cinemas this month and on VOD from 27th September.
I’ll be perfectly honest – before watching this movie I’d never even heard of The ParaPod podcast or its hosts. But thankfully, while long-term fans will certainly relish the chance to see the comedy bickerings and antics of its hosts finally playing out on the big screen, you certainly do not need to have any prior knowledge or experience of the show in order to thoroughly appreciate and enjoy it.
The first series of The ParaPod podcast tackled ghosts and hauntings as die-hard sceptic Ian Boldsworth (who also directed the movie) went head-to-head with lifelong believer Barry Dodds in an attempt to discover the truth. Series 2 and 3 covered mysteries and conspiracy theories, but it’s the subject of series 1 which forms the basis for this movie, as the pair head out on a tour of the UK’s most notorious supernatural hotspots for a mix of comedy documentary and some genuinely creepy suspense.
It’s clear before the pair have even hit the road just what a great double-act they make, as Ian rocks up in a branded hearse, complete with PARA-1 numberplates, much to the horror of Barry. And when they do eventually head off, their first stop isn’t even a haunted location but a Scepticism Conference in Manchester, where Ian has well and truly set Barry up. He’s arranged for him to step out in front of an unsuspecting crowd of stony-faced sceptics in order to deliver his views on the paranormal, something which results on the majority of the crowd walking out!
Their tour then takes them down to Kent, where they visit Pluckley, the most haunted village in Britain, and where they also spend the night camped in the “screaming woods”. Then it’s up to Edinburgh for a visit to an underground crypt before heading on to the home of the world’s most violent poltergeist at 30 East Drive in Pontefract. It is there that we meet Carol Fieldhouse, a psychic/paranormal investigator who happens to live right next door. Carol clearly has issues with Ian, and her relaying of offensive messages to Ian from the psychic world is just hilarious.
Visits to these locations tend to follow a similar format for a while. While these places appear genuinely creepy when viewed at night via night-vision or camera lighting, they fail to provide the much-needed proof of the paranormal that Barry is so desperately seeking. Instead, they tend to just involve a lot of mucking about and pranking, mostly delivered by Ian and pretty much always at the expense of Barry. But then Barry spots something at one of the locations that genuinely terrifies him to his core, something which we’d already heard the audio of during the opening credits, and it’s enough to ramp up the suspense and put us on high alert for the remainder of the movie.
As well as ghost hunting, the movie is interspersed with clips from the podcast studio, where the pair have gathered to reflect on their experiences, and there are also some talking-head segments from experts regarding the nature of ghost stories and our beliefs. Despite the large amounts of humour on offer, The ParaPod does also makes for a very interesting and thought-provoking watch. One minute I found myself siding with the sceptic, the next I was firmly in the believer camp. The finale doesn’t quite land as well as the build-up seemed to suggest it would, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed The ParaPod and will be sure to check out the podcast as soon as possible.
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Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.