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Portal Review: Ghost Hunters Go Too Far In Average Horror Tale | Shriekfest 2019

Ghost hunting shows are still rather popular on cable nets and the web these days. The movie Portal follows the crew of one of these shows that has been struggling to gain viewers, as they refuse to fake the funk when it comes to their encounters with the supernatural. For their last episode, they visit a house that will give them enough ghostly encounters to last them a lifetime. The length of their lives though, may not amount to much, if this house has their way with them.

Ryan Merriman stars as the show’s host Steven, who refuses to add artificial scares to his program just to gain viewers. This has led his show to the edge of cancellation though, so he bribes a rival show’s location scout to give him some truly haunted houses to film for one final episode. The perfect spot is found, the Dalva House, home to some Amityville Horror-esque murders back in the 70s. He and his crew set up camp at the house and find themselves still unlucky at encountering any spectral phenomena until a Native American ritual is discovered that can open up a portal between the realms of the living and the dead. Desperate, Steven performs the ritual, leading to deadly consequences for him and his crew.

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Director Dean Alioto does what he can with the material, attempting to elevate it to something truly frightening. It never quite gets there though, playing out as a rather pedestrian horror effort. What’s there isn’t too surprising or original, as many a variation on the ghost hunter TV show theme has come and gone in recent years in the realm of indie horror features.

A highlight of the film is the appearance of a certain 80s horror franchise leading actress as the lone survivor of the house’s 1970s murders. I won’t completely spoil the surprise, but her character’s arrival is very welcome, as it comes as the film starts to lose steam as it goes on.

If you’re a fan of ghost hunting TV shows, Portal might hold more interest for you than it did for me. The film isn’t bad, by any means, but it also sadly doesn’t pack a punch when it comes to scares or originality.

Recommended if you liked: Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Grave Encounters

Final Grade: B-

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