Moderately effective, low-budget Paranormal Activity fare–
The Crying Dead (nee The Whispering Dead) is a found-footage genre horror, and produced for the low sum of $200 thousand, so with that in mind we shall proceed. Made in 2011, actor turned director Hunter G. Williams decided to try his hand at a paranormal horror gig with a decent degree of success. It pretty much uses the FF formula, by keeping us as interested as possible for the first and second act, and save the real stuff for the final, and that is more or less what we got. I actually found the first act more interesting than the following two, but it isn’t that the meat of the horror wasn’t satisfying. It’s that the beginning was the strongest part of the film, and we see some solid black and white action as the movie opens, then learn how the group get together and discover a little of their personalities, of which all adds to the overall effect as the tale unfolds.
A small group of filmmakers decide to make a pilot for a reality TV show, so agree to try it at an abandoned hospital, which is due for demolition in three months time. The caretaker shows up and gives them a tour of the premises, and they attempt to verify some of the known facts about the old building. There were reports of cannibalism, suicide and they also knew of three children who died in a fire, but this is precisely what they want to hear. When the caretaker refuses to let them back in to film overnight, they break in to the hospital and start filming anyway. With some static and handheld cameras, the group work their way through the place but things start to happen after one of their number disappears. We also start to catch glimpses of ghosts and watch as they each vanish one by one.
I happen to like the Paranormal Activity franchise (no, I’m not ashamed of it), so was keen on seeing this movie, but although I did find it reasonably entertaining, I really don’t know if it will appeal to fans of other genre, especially if you don’t enjoy the challenge of a low-budget horror. Considering the lowly budget, it had decent production, but where this movie shone most was with the performances of the actors. They really did lift this movie quite a bit and without them this wouldn’t have been easy to get tuned into. The PA franchise use a certain sound effect (rumble) when the creepy stuff is about to happen but in place of that, The Crying Dead use camera interference and snare drums to attempt a similar thing. It didn’t have the same punch. The special-effects were not too bad, and were, on the whole, quite effective, especially the “grabbing away” by the ghosts. It can be hard to ignore a films weaknesses at times but this movie is worth the effort and ultimately a satisfying watch.
Review by Ed Blackadder, Special to Influx Magazine