Realm of Souls (2013)

RealmofSoulsA group of filmmakers go ghost hunting at a site reputed for sightings and paranormal phenomena.  Once on the site, they take a quick tour and set up before finding cameras and equipment from a previous group.  What they find on the recordings is disturbing and also a warning.

Written and directed by Chase Smith, Realm of Souls is a mix of found footage and traditional footage with a touch of night vision and false damage on the found footage.  The story is typical of the found footage ghost story/demon sub-genre in horror.  It goes in the expected ways: Team goes in woods, investigates, films, disappears, second team finds their work.  The writing and directing here are decent but the story feels a lot like “been there, done that”, especially for anyone who watches a lot of horror movies.

The characters or people (as we are supposed to think of them as real people, and not actors playing parts) here are fairly run of the mill for the sub-genre with the added touch they are filmmakers so the found footage is halfway decent, shot in a more stable camera style (thankfully), and with decent focus.  There are a few original twists and turns, but most were a bit predictable still.  The dialogue needs to be notes here as it does come off mostly natural and not forced or grating as in many found footage films recently.

The cast is composed of some of Chase Smith’s regulars and new faces.  Most of them are not going to be familiar to most viewers, which is something absolutely necessary for found footage films to work as a famous face can throw the viewers out of the story and the experience.  Once again, Smith works with a big cast here, making it harder for anyone to stand out unless they are absolutely magnificent or completely dreadful.  Neither happens here, however no one being really bad is a good thing as so much rests on the cast in this type of films.

The special effects are decent for what can be seen in the found footage and night vision scenes.  None of it will revolutionize effects or the genre, but what is there fits with the movie and looks nicely bloody.  Added effects that this reviewer could have done without were the fake damage on some of the footage and the blue screens between some of the scenes.  The former was an annoyance while the latter just takes the viewer right out of the film while wondering why this is happening.  This breaks any kind of tension there might have been and kills the mood of the film far too often.  These do not add anything really to the film and distract way too much from the story.

The idea of filmmakers going to tramping grounds to film paranormal phenomena is interesting but the way it’s exploited here makes it lose most interest as the pace of the film is beyond slow, spending far too much time on its too numerous characters instead of the actual creepy and scary parts of the story.  The film takes a very long time to get going and but the time it truly does, it’s too little too late and not enough time is spent on building dread and fear to make the reveals any kind of impactful.

Realm of Souls is a well shot but wasted with found footage effects, such as night vision and fake damage, which will most likely only appeal to hard core fans of the sub-genre.  The casual viewer and those not into this style will most like be quite bored by the proceedings.

Realm of Souls was produced by Spirit World Films.