Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour (2008)

SarahLandonMoviePoster_000To say the writing behind “Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour” is clunky, sloppy, and utterly lazy would be a gross understatement. The movie makes no effort in being at all coherent or fluid and instead just does nothing but make all of the wrong movies when applied to competent writing. Sarah Landon is the heroine of this picture and the best characterization we get from her is during her introduction when she gets in to her car and the director zooms in on her bumper sticker that reads “My Friend was Killed by a Drunk Driver.” Director Lisa Comrie doesn’t even try to giver her some complex characterization, she literally explains her entire story on a bumper sticker! And this is supposed to give us insight on Landon? Why not put another bumper sticker that reads “Sarah Landon: The Main Character”?

In either case, if that’s not enough the first twenty minutes is comprised of nothing but flashback sequences and aimless tedious exposition from every single character on-screen and we’re supposed to believe this is all going somewhere. Sarah’s friend died from a drunk driver, she enters in to a town where the mechanic, her new best friend, and her house keeper have a story about murder, dreams, and mysterious deaths, all the while we’re supposed to be engrossed in the back stories but are too distracted by the redundant dialogue and laughable acting. Considering this is a low budget movie, I really wanted to be easy on this, but I just couldn’t. Why is Sarah so invested in leaning about the demons of the town and their past? She’s the hero, so… she has to be. Why does Sarah’s host for the weekend know so much about the town? It’s useful to the story! And sadly enough the movie is not an hour and trudges on for almost ninety minutes through just painfully written scenes and horrible character chemistry.

The movie often feels like a mix of a tame RL Stine novel, with a Lifetime Channel movie of the week, and I would have preferred both over these. There are gems of dialogue like “Do you know what a nervous breakdown is?! It’s a catchphrase for we don’t know what the hell is wrong with you, that’s what it is!” and at one point a character wonders why Sarah is reading and boasts about the local pie! Because nothing screams cliché like a small town man creaming his pants about local pie! When we’re not being spoon fed horrible dialogue and spontaneous outbursts from its community theater cast desperately trying to involve the audience in what tension and suspense they can muster up, the story from the Comries constantly stops to a screeching halt to explain ghosts, demons, nightmares, the term “Paranormal Hour,” and anxiously create tension in its short running time, and it’s just impossible to sit though. I commend you if you can watch without sliding down in your seat and praying for the sweet release of death. And to top that off, Sarah Landon isn’t even an interesting heroine!

She does nothing but stand around making googly eyes, looking scared, and asking “Why?,” “Oh god, what happened?,” and “She saw a ghost? Wow…” She’s not so much investigative as she is incredibly nosy, and for some reason these town folks are very easy to give away their personal wounds to anyone who comes in to town and asks. And for a good portion of her own movie, Landon is merely a side character given nothing to do at all. There’s even a flashback to a dream sequence, and the Comrie’s actually try to create suspense by a stray cat and an open cabinet door. Dear god, I really wanted to give this movie a fair shake, but this truly one excruciating experiment in patience and endurance. I’ve learned that whenever I think to myself, “I’m sure this movie isn’t as bad as everyone says it is,” it’s usually a good sign to stop what I’m doing and avoid said movie at any costs, because often I’ll find myself suffering through a tame, lame, and horrible supernatural thriller too boring for the kids, and too dumb for the adults. I appreciate the director’s efforts to create a new horror heroine, but Landon won’t be a household name any time soon.