Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour
Dir. Lisa Comrie
Premiered October 19, 2007
Wow. Wow, wow, wow.
Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour is a miracle. It is the worst movie I have ever seen. I almost don’t want to review it on principle, because it isn’t even fit to be a made-for-TV movie on basic cable in the early 1990s. All but one of the “actors” in this film have no other credits, meaning that I am a more accomplished actor than the entire cast. And rightfully so.
The plot is impossible to follow, partly because it’s mind-numbingly complicated, partly because I never saw any of it; the film is such an achievement in telling and not showing that they might as well have not bothered using a camera…or sound equipment for that matter, as none of the actors speak as if they understand a word of English. I’ll put it as simply as I can:
Sarah Landon (Rissa Walters, with shades of Juliette Danielle in The Room) is distraught from the death of her childhood friend, and is invited by the deceased’s grandmother (Jane Harris) to spend some time in the small town of Pine Valley.
There, Sarah meets brothers David and Matt (Brian and Dan Comrie), who tell her a story from the town’s sordid-ish past. Many years ago, their cousin Johnny was killed in a car accident. Johnny’s father, their uncle Ben (Rusty Hanes), blamed David for the accident and vowed to kill him on his 21st birthday, but died shortly after. David became obsessed ever after with the “Paranormal Hour,” and fears that Ben’s ghost is haunting him, waiting, while Johnny possesses the body of a new kid in town. Sarah’s involvement in any of this is nonexistent, and yet she is our hero. The film, incredibly, ends on a sequel hook.
That this movie was made is not totally surprising. That it was ever shown in one theater, let alone received a genuine 1,121-theater wide release, is astonishing. The director appears to have made it with her family and a handful of friends, none of whom were professional actors. The film appears to have been shot on an early digital camera with bad focus, and is poorly lit when lit at all. I got some (unintended) laughs out of this, but mostly was bored out of my mind.
The best thing that can be said about Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour is that, if you squint really hard, it seems like something Harmony Korine could possibly have made on purpose. That doesn’t mean it’s watchable, because I would’ve gotten an F if I’d turned this in in film school. Or high school. Or middle school. Probably elementary school, too. This can only be, by default, the worst film of 2007.
Sign This Was Made in 2007
It’s on Sarah’s friend’s tombstone.
How Did It Do?
Despite appearing at no festivals and having a totally unknown cast and crew (even by the standards of first-time indies), Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour was picked up for distribution by Freestyle Releasing, a fly-by-night operation also responsible for introducing North America to In the Name of the King, D-War, Delgo, some of PureFlix’s recent output, and astonishingly Me and Orson Welles. Nobody knows why this movie was greenlit for wide release, but online speculation suggests that Freestyle found the title attractive due to its remote similarity to those in the Harry Potter franchise.
Released into the single-busiest opening weekend in the history of American cinema (alongside 30 Days of Night, Gone Baby Gone, Into the Wild, Things We Lost in the Fire, The Comebacks, and an animated Ten Commandments), Sarah Landon grossed $858,415. It received a rare 0% rating on RottenTomatoes, with Mack Rawden of CinemaBlend diagnosing it as “a bloodless, PG-rated snuff film.”
No information could be found regarding the promised sequels.
Next Time: Enchanted