In the last couple of years we have seen films based on apps (Countdown, the Angry Birds movies, that M. Night Shyamalan one about the ageing filter), social media (Unfriended, Unfriended: Dark Web, Unfriended: Consent to Cookies), and now for the first time, a feature version of a podcast.
Adapted from the hilarious podcast in which a believer (Barry Dodds) and a sceptic (Ian Boldsworth) argue over the existence of the paranormal, The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt is both a comedy and documentary about ghosts, critical thinking and what happens when an incredulous force meets a gullible object. Fans of the podcast will revel in the return of old favourites like Barry’s Taxi and 30 East Drive, as well as Dodds’ introduction of a brand new catchphrase, “Fuck off dickhead.”
It also works for newbies due to the ingeniously simple premise and immediately graspable characters. The boundlessly mischievous Boldsworth is the perfect foil for Dodds’ inexhaustible willingness, stretched to breaking point as the pair drive around the country in a customised hearse to investigate Barry’s favourite haunts in what often feels like a northern Blair Witch Project. Along the way they discover some interesting characters, the side effects of codeine and, in Barry’s case, God.
AVBGH (incidentally the noise Barry keeps making) brings a new visual layer to the dynamic, allowing us to see the bafflement (Boldsworth) and panic (Dodds) that lurked in the podcast like ghosts don’t. Featuring an Oscar-worthy turn from Ian, a spiritual journey for Barry (who accidentally invents Pascal’s wager at one point) and the best church scene since The Expendables, A Very British Ghost Hunt has all the hilarity, paranormal inactivity and psychological liability to last several lifetimes.