Review: Portal (2019)


A team calling themselves, ‘Ghost Seekers’ needing a successful investigation to ensure their series survival investigate a supposedly haunted house and soon get more than they bargained for…

The idea of a team of ghost hunters getting in way over their head is almost becoming it’s own subgenre of the found footage subgenre of horror. I’m a fan of found footage films, the recent film, The Devil’s Doorway, being one of the scariest films I’ve seen. When I read the premise, I did expect Portal to be another of this type. 

To my surprise therefore, Portal isn’t one. Despite the story, it’s shot as a normal film, rather than the POV one would expect.

But the way it is made aside, is it a good film? Well…

The cast are actually pretty good. Heather Langenkamp (Nancy in A Nightmare On Elm Street) is the big draw here, even if she doesn’t actually appear until the film heads into its final act. Of the others, the lead actor, Ryan Merriman, is not bad as Steven, the host and leader of the group of ghost hunters. The others in the cast, including Jamie Tinsdale, Myk Watford, Reinaldo Zavarce and Najarra Townsend are also not bad. The interactions between them are good and there are small moments of humour in their too.

Dean Alioto directs the film and I do think as a director he does well, when the focus is on the cast. He fares less well in the staging of the horror aspects of the story, which isn’t scary at all.

This brings me to the main issue with the film, the story. The film is written by Alioto and Peter Dukes and it is the film’s biggest problem. From the whole idea of stealing a file, which you just know is going to happen, to the inconsistent nature of the demon/ghost haunting the house, to little details, such as the buried box and how they find it (seriously, you will groan).

It’s clear the film didn’t have a huge budget, which does have an impact, especially in the climax, but to the film’s credit it does pull of a couple of surprises, one an actual pleasant one, even if a last minute reveal doesn’t work at all.

At around 75 minutes, Portal doesn’t outstay its welcome and the cast carry you through the film. It’s well made and acted, but sadly as a horror it doesn’t work.

Rating: **1/2 out of 5

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