After living through thousands of Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, and Paranormal Activity movies over the decades, no ghost would have to tell me twice to get the fuck out. I’d drop what I was doing and flee right on the spot, taking nothing with me but the clothes on my back…and my collections of music, movies, books, video games, toys, novelty merchandise, and memorabilia.
That was never an option for my mom when I was growing up in my horror house. She stood her ground. Of course, our ghosts didn’t have the power to kill people like the ghosts in these two indie films. It also wasn’t personal, as it ends up being in each of these films. The great news is, neither of these paranormal movies is found footage.
HOUSE OF AFFLICTIONS (2014)
This low budget film is a matter of “seen it all before.” Not only that, but you see it all—over and over—within the movie.
Basically suffering from writer’s block as she still copes with the disappearance of her daughter several years before, a successful author attempts to refocus her creativity by renting a big house to work in. She sets up a typewriter…in the small foyer…at the foot of the stairs…and begins writing.
Almost immediately, she receives chilling phone calls (the film is set in the 1970s, so no modern features to let her know who it is), sees fleeting glimpses of a young man in the house, watches as toys in a room upstairs move on their own, and hears a child giggling. However, what begins as atmospheric and creepy quickly turns tedious. I can’t tell you the number of times she gets up to answer a ringing phone.
She doesn’t want to leave the house because she believes her daughter is in it, so she calls in a psychic.
Meanwhile, people in her life begin dying at the hands of the young man roaming the house—even when they’re nowhere near the house. Honestly, this young man ghost dude travels to her friends’ and family’s houses to kill them.
After a whole lot of the same thing, the movie ends with five minutes of narrative exposition by the woman who owns the house, and all her revelations only manage to make the entire plot really confusing.
FIND ME (2014)
Find Me is definitely the winner of these two for me. It’s a slow burner, but there’s something very realistic about the build as the characters accept and contend with their ghost problem.
A couple moves into a new home near the place where the wife grew up. Mysterious things begin to happen—a window cracks, a handprint appears on a pane, the wife thinks she sees a girl in the dark in the bathroom, she finds an old music box that seems to move around the house, and the message “Find me” starts to appear in various places. This is the point at which I’d be like, “Fuck you. Stay lost.”
The reactions of the characters (and the actors’ performances) are very natural and make their staying in the house more believable. There’s a great exchange during a scene in which a friend thinks she sees someone standing in the yard. And instead of being the cliché douche husband that thinks the wife is imagining things, this (adorable) husband is totally supportive.
It’s so awesome when he first has a freaky encounter himself and says to the wife, “I just saw the fucking ghost.” And even their attempt at a séance has them behaving in a manner any of us would.
The movie becomes somewhat of an old school haunted house mystery movie as the couple does what they can to learn the history of the house and the ghost—séance, old newspapers, searching hidden nooks of the house, talking to their neighbor—but the style of the film captures the creep factor of modern ghost movies, making it a refreshing blend that offers something for horror whores of all ages!
Be warned that Find Me does rely on a way too convenient coincidence to tie the characters to the ghost (same issue as House of Afflictions), which results in loose ends and plot holes. Also, there’s a shift in ghostly motivation—and paranormal power—as the truth is revealed, which makes for a good twist but is a bit jolting; the film becomes so focused on the mystery that it doesn’t quite show the progression of the ghost’s angst as the story unfolds.