DVD Review: The Presence / Cert: 15 / Director: Tom Provost / Screenplay: Tom Provost / Starring: Mira Sorvino, Shane West, Justin Kirk / Release Date: Out Now
It could be that the presence of Mira Sorvino, who has not really ever capitalised on her supporting Oscar win back in the early 90’s, lends the film an air of mediocrity or it could just be that the film is just so mediocre that no amount of talent could help it. Either way you look at it The Presence, written and directed by Tom Provost, is a dull lifeless affair that never really builds on some nice ideas.
Our story begins with a nice lady played by Sorvino arriving at the small wooden house in the countryside that she has some kind of vague childhood connection to. Whilst she is there we see that there is a ghostly man (Shane West) who may be the ghost of a criminal who died in the lake. There are no special effects here, a pale looking West is just standing in the background of most of the scenes as Sorvino works on some kind of project. If you didn’t know the title of the film you would probably think it was just about the world’s most ignorant woman. Anyway things keep going bump in the night and this woman must be doing something awful in the outhouse because birds keep flying into it and killing themselves every time she goes in there. Then the woman’s boyfriend shows up and we learn that the woman comes from an abusive background that makes her distrust men, the fact that he proposes to her doesn’t seem to help matters and we learn of another more malevolent entity that is whispering influence and bad ideas to both the woman and the ghost who was there first.
Talk about slow, there is slow build and then there is standing still and this film is definitely the latter. The decision not to use special effects that the production couldn’t afford to portray the ghosts was quite a good one because it definitely feels unusual and is slightly unnerving. The film fails to do anything with this though and is more concerned with giving Sorvino’s acting talent a work out and capturing the really lovely scenery, and fair enough because the scenery is lovely but a ghost story has to at least have some thrills.
Things get slightly more interesting when Tony Curran shows up as a kind of demon like figure whispering things into Sorvino’s ear about her husband to be and also trying to tempt West, who is apparently in love with this woman (not that you would know because he has no dialogue). Of course they are only slightly more interesting and by this point you won’t care because Provost is then revealed to be making a rip off of the 1990 film Ghost all along.
The Presence really needed to commit to either shock or romance but by doing neither it just sits there. Dull, inert and completely without soul.
Special Features: None