(director/writer: Dean Alito; screenwriter: Peter Dukes; cinematographer: Ignacio Walker; editor: Dean Alito; music: Corey Allen Jackson; cast: Ryan Merriman (Steve), Najarra Townsend (Jen), Myk Watford (Mason), Reinaldo Zavarce (Raz), Jamie Tisdale (Cris), Heather Langenkamp (Fiona, surviving daughter), Yan Birch (Douglas, adopted brother of Fiona); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Chris Sergi/Andrekza Vasquez/Reinaldo Zavarce; Vertical Entertainment; 2019)

“Doesn’t really get going until the third act, and by that time I checked-out.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A sci-fi horror thriller about the paranormal directed with some trepidation by Dean Alito (“Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County”/”Lizzie Borden Had an Axe”) and co-written by Alito and Peter Dukes. It doesn’t really get going until the third act, and by time I checked-out. It opens with the introductions of a group of five amateur ghost hunters–Steve (Ryan Merriman), Cris (Jamie Tisdale), Mason (Myk Watford), Jen (Najarra Townsend), and Raz (Reinaldo Zavarce)–whose floundering TV show is hosted by team leader Steve. He’s the ambitious but skeptic paranormal group founder who yearns for his team to emulate the famous ghost-buster teams seen on TV.

Their latest project is the Dalva House, years ago the scene of a murder-suicide. When the group find nothing scary in the house Cris, the assistant and love interest of Steve, suggests faking fright scenes, which is rejected by Steve.

At the site’s local graveyard, the group finds a mysterious box. When an Indian incantation is read aloud in the cellar, a portal to the underground is opened and suddenly some members of the team are being picked off one-by-one. Meanwhile Jen becomes possessed and attacks Steve and Cris.

The surviving group members come across a mysterious woman named Fiona (Heather Langenkamp), who killed the insane killer of the Dalva House. She’s revealed to be the missing surviving member of the Dalva family, who with her adopted brother Douglas (Yan Birch) agree to help Steven and Cris stop the evil force.

The lack of scares and usage of CGI effects does little to help its cause, as the B film relies primarily on building tension to sustain its narrative. The picture is rescued from disappearing into thin air by Merriman’s earnest performance and the appearance in the finale of ‘scream queen’ Langenkamp.

It’s not a bad film, but neither is it a good film.

Portal (2019)

REVIEWED ON 11/5/2019   GRADE: C+  https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/