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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour
Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour
Other // PG // October 19, 2007
Review by Brian Orndorf | posted October 19, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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Despite the Harry Potter-ish brand name (and opening title font), "Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour" isn't based on a literary phenomenon, but merely the low-budget filmmaking aspirations of the Comrie family. Either flush with cash or in possession of incriminating photographs of a Freestyle Releasing executive, somehow this family pushed their mild tween mystery into a wide theatrical release this weekend, despite making a picture almost completely devoid of polish.

Sarah Landon (Rissa Walters) is off on a weekend trip to see an old friend's grandmother, driving up to the country, only to be sidelined with car troubles. Stuck in the small town of Pine Valley for longer than she anticipated, Sarah reunites with an old playmate, Matt (Dan Comrie), while discovering a murderous curse placed long ago on his brother David (Brian Comrie) is about to become a chilling reality. Between ghosts, a psychic, and clues leading to horrible conclusions, it's up to Sarah and Matt to figure out how to save David and restore some peace to Pine Valley.

Written by John Comrie and directed by Lisa Comrie, "Landon" is a more sluggish "Nancy Drew" or a watered down episode of "Goosebumps." It's a lukewarm pass at all-ages terror for the Halloween season, and it has a sweet homemade feel to it that doesn't come around very often at the multiplex. However, that fresh apple pie appeal only takes the movie so far.

To be blunt, "Landon" is a cheap-looking film, shot on fuzzy DV equipment with a cast of nonprofessionals who spend most of the picture reminding the viewer of this cringing fact. It's a roughly made feature looking to summon up an air of mystery and PG gloom, but just doesn't have the experienced execution films of this nature need to connect with a mass audience. Lisa Comrie has a nice touch with woodsy outdoors and the teen wonderment of the title character, but once the paranormal stuff starts to hit the screen, the film begins to resemble a stiff, amateurish YouTube video.

One element that stands out about "Landon" is young Walters, who is certainly inexperienced when it comes to screen emoting, but carries herself with a lovely poise. I can't express loud enough how wonderful it was to watch an adolescent character allowed an age-appropriate awkwardness and body image, eschewing the coke whore aesthetics of teen cinema competition to promote a character of relatable charm and kindly social graces.

Soon "Landon" is crawling with ghosts, shotgun-toting grandmothers, and unfortunate sequences where the Comrie boys are encouraged to "act." This is a not an offensively bad picture, but to hand it a big screen release is perhaps aiming a smidge higher than the Comries can artistically handle. I'm sure they'll do much better with a promised sequel.


For further online adventure, please visit brianorndorf.com
Buy tickets to "Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour" now!

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