The death of a loved one can be an awful and devastating event. I can relate to this as a couple of my friends have died from the deadly virus last year. Because of this unexpected, traumatic event, it can manifest in one's dreams. I can state that I have had one or two dreams about my deceased friends. While some dreams can be good, there are others that can be traumatic and can manifest in horrible and haunting ways.
The Parish, produced by Mighty Tripod and Cyfuno Ventures and distributed by Uncork'd Entertainment, is a tale of how a death in a family can compound into a ghostly secret that haunts a single mother and her daughter into revealing a terrible secret.
Liz Charles (Angela DiMarco), damaged by the death of her husband Jason (Ray Tagavilla), escape to Seattle with her disaffected daughter Audrey (Sanae Loutsis). As they get settled into a new town and Audrey with a new school, strange entities that are only seen by Liz and Audrey around the school grounds. Liz meets up with Father Felix (Bill Oberst Jr.) where she confides to the priest of the passing of her husband that disturbs her dreams. As the ghostly entities manifests themselves as Caleb (Lucas Oktay) and Sister Beatrice (Gin Hammond), they are revealed to be phantom relics of a frightening secret buried in the school's past. Liz and Father Felix battle these phantoms in an effort to rescue Audrey from their clutches.
Written by Todd Downing and directed David S. Hogan, The Parish is a stale tale of ghostly secrets and a bewildering possession mashup. The story feels disjointed as many families face trauma and the death of a loved one, but I'm lost on why this family is the only ones haunted by these spectral deities and being the "chosen ones" to unravel the school's secrets. This film is laced with a ton of dream sequences throughout the movie. While this isn't terrible, these sequences are pretty standard fare and might be better served if there were less of them and were more revealing and impactful. What's also troubling is the connection between Jason and the ghostly entities as they don't tie together at all and the uncertainty of why the spiritual Jason would care about Caleb and Sister Beatrice as they have never met in the material world.
As far as the directing aspect of the film, it is competently shot, but much of the action is drowned out by the badly mixed musical soundtrack. It seems that Mr. Hogan doesn't trust the interactions from his characters or the environment he places them in. The scenes would be far more effective if the soundtrack had more subtlety or the environment's natural surroundings became the soundtrack.
The two performances in this film that stand out are Ms. DiMarco's portrayal as the haunted and vulnerable single mother Liz and Mr. Oberst Jr. as the kind and insightful Father Felix.
While The Parish has some horror elements, this film feels more thriller than horror and has the feel of a Lifetime or Hallmark television movie and might be more at home in those channels of content. For hardcore horror fans who would have the urge to flock to this film, I would suggest to fly in a different direction.