Portal (2019) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Portal (2019) Review

Horrorific content by jessicagomez on November 17th, 2019 | Movie Review | Supernatural, Demon

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It’s about an ambitious ghost hunter who performs a risky ritual, opening a portal to “the other side”. He and his team quickly find themselves way in over their heads in a fight for survival against an ancient demonic force.

Portal was directed by Dean Alioto (who also directed Alien Abduction: Incident at Lake County) and stars Ryan Merriman (from Final Destination 3), Heather Langenkamp (from A Nightmare On Elm Street) and Najarra Townsend (from Contracted).

It's been waiting for you

A small-time, five-person documentary crew called Ghost Seekers is finishing up their inaugural season, and it’s been a rough one. Poking fun at over-the-top, fabricated ghost hunter shows that we’ve all been guilty of watching, Ghost Seekers are the only ghost hunters that don’t use fictitious scares - and as a result, their season is DOA. Steven is dead-set on keeping it authentic to prove to himself that a prior experience he had with a ghost was real, and he goes to great lengths to end the show with a bang. 

Purchasing information from a douchebag location scout who works for the fake ghost hunting shows, Steven steals the information for a location deemed “off limits” - the Dalva house, the site of three deaths in 1977. When Steven catches a glimpse of what appears to be a young girl in the window of a photo of the house, he deems it the perfect location to film their season finale. 

While the house is creepy, they’re off to a lackluster start with no interaction from any ghosts. Steven’s producer/partner Cris finds a photo in the house that shows a man and woman with their two daughters, but anyone paying attention would notice that the original story stated that Dalva had only killed one daughter. The stage is set for an entrance from the other daughter, but her arrival is still unexpected. After their disappointing first day, Steven reluctantly agrees to piping in a few artificial scares, but it doesn’t take long before he’s thirsting again for the real deal.

After desecrating what looks like a tombstone and uncovering some nefarious-looking Native American artifacts, Steven is eager to get back to trying to uncover a real entity. He quickly gets a taste of the paranormal activity he’s seeking...but it’s a little more deadly than he had in mind. Was he really trying to prove to himself that ghosts were real, or was he seeking success over his competition at any cost? The cyclical nature of ghost hunter teams lives on with the footage of that night, proving that some people just can’t fight the temptation to peek under the curtain, camera in hand - and you can’t always bury what wants to surface.

Gregory Zaragoza is authentic and interesting; horror queen Heather Langenkamp makes a badass entrance and plays a small but important role; Merriman is great as a struggling filmmaker - instantly likable, believable as desperate to make something happen, all while providing some comic relief. The elevated acting from Langenkamp and Merriman really make the film. 

Portal featured great camerawork and cinematography, better than what you’d expect for a low-budget feature. We sometimes view the film through the lens of the documentarians’ camera, giving it a partial found-footage, realistic feel without the shakiness that usually accompanies those types of films. Portal is just over an hour - you blink, and it’s over. It could have stood to be longer to fit in a bit more origin story and a few more scares, but better to be too short than too long. 

Why do we believe in ghosts? We all have our reasons. Some want to believe in the afterlife so that we can see our loved ones again. Some want to prove to ourselves that we aren’t crazy. And some are just trying to keep the evil our ancestors called upon at bay. 

In Portal, we get a twist on the “ancient burial ground” hauntings that we’ve heard about in Pet Sematary and Poltergeist . When the ghost hunting crew themselves have been unsuccessful in every place they’ve tried to make contact, it makes it a bit creepier when things finally start to happen to them.

Worth Watching?

Portal was enjoyable, featured great acting, and was different than your run-of-the-mill haunted house story. Definitely worth the watch - check it out now on VOD or digital platforms.

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