Portal (2019)

portal

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A band of paranormal experts find themselves at a major crossroads in this slow-moving thriller that rightfully waits until the third act.

Steven is the host of a paranormal show where he and his team search abandoned houses in hopes to find ghosts. His latest expedition is the Dalva House, where years ago, a murder-suicide was committed. The patriarch of the Dalva family had brutally murdered his wife and one of his daughters before killing himself. The other daughter had gone missing. When Steven and his team arrive at the house, they find absolutely nothing. His assistant and love interest, Cris, tells Steven it would be a good idea to create “fake” scares but Steven wants nothing to do with it.

At the local graveyard, the group comes across a mysterious box. Taking the box, Steven heads into the cellar and reads an incantation. Suddenly, members of Steven’s team are being either picked off one-by-one, or in the case of Jen, Steven and Cris finds her possessed and going after them. Both soon come across a mysterious woman named Fiona, who is revealed to be the surviving member of the Dalva family. Along with her adopted brother Douglas, Fiona intends to help Steven and Cris stop the force once and for all.

Haunted house films have become a dime a dozen where the generalization is that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. However, in recent years, the genre has taken different takes and adds various twists and turns. Some rely on gore and blood, some on scares, and some combining the two. Where does Portal lie? It relies more on scares with minimal reliance on blood and gore.

The film, at a runtime of 75 minutes, starts out a bit of a slow pace with the events leading up to the discovery of the box that opens the titular portal. Thankfully, Ryan Merriman drives the film as Steven, the head paranormal expert who is seen as a skeptic through the eyes of his crew. However, in a very emotional moment with his girlfriend Cris, he has his reasons for wanting to pursue his career, referencing a 1990s hit film.

However, as the tension slowly grows, it is in the final half hour that things really begin to pick up and then, a major surprise comes in. And that is the appearance of Nancy Thompson herself, Heather Langenkamp. Having taken a sporadic break from acting to pursue a career in VFX, Langenkamp is the film’s saving grace in the final half hour as Fiona, the woman who holds the key to finding a way to stop the portal. The film’s last act really amps up in scares while it brings a sense of predictability, it nonetheless goes off on a high note.

Portal may be a bit of a slow pace at first saved by Ryan Merriman’s performance but the last act picks up very well with Heather Langenkamp being the ultimate saving grace of the film, which relies more on tension rather than blood…and that’s a good thing here.

WFG RATING: B+

High Octane Pictures presents a HorrorHound Films production in association with Indiesyndicate Productions and Lotus Visual Arts. Director: Dean Alioto. Producers: Chris Sergi, Andrekza Vasquez, and Reinaldo Zavarce. Writers: Peter Dukes and Dean Alioto. Cinematography: Ignacio Walker. Editing: Dean Alioto.

Cast: Ryan Merriman, Jamie Tisdale, Myk Watford, Heather Langenkamp, Reinaldo Zavarce, Najarra Townsend, Gregory Zaragoza, Lauren White, Jose Rosete, Jill Marie Hoffman, Courtney Nightingale.

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