Infrared begins with footage, shot for the never aired show of the same name, of Wes (Jesse Janzen, Art of Deception, Cry Wolf) performing a rather dull-looking exorcism. Then, in footage we’re told came from one of two cameras found in a school prior to its demolition we see Jane (Ariel Ryan, The Desires of Dawn, Say Goodbye) exploring the Lincoln School in Sacramento and discovering she’s not alone.
Footage from the second camera shows Randy (Randy Nundlall Jr.) interviewing a medium Izzy (Leah Finity, Under the Palm Tree, Finn and Marco) who happens to be Wes’s estranged sister. Infrared actually goes on like this for a while, as next Randy and Wes prepare to perform a spiritual cleansing on an apartment. After that ends up not happening they drive past the Lincoln School and the film finally, at the twenty-five-minute mark, starts getting down to what we came to see.
Writer/directors Robert Livings (Two People, Weekend Healer) and Randy Nundlall Jr. (Say Goodbye, The Other Girl) eventually have Wes become obsessed with getting into the school. Which he does with the help of the building’s caretaker Geoff (Greg Sestero, The Room, Miracle Valley). Randy, starting to get worried about Wes’ plans, convinces Izzy to join them to try and help keep her brother under control.
Much of the publicity for Infrared revolved around the presence of Greg Sestero and he does have a fairly large role. Which is great if you’re a fan of his style of acting. I just found him irritating as hell. Admittedly that does actually help the film at a couple of points, but he so overplays his part that it makes some things obvious and ends up spoiling some of the film’s final act reveal.
By the time the various plot strands started to be joined, I was getting distinctly impatient. Not only does Infrared follow the done-to-death paranormal TV show plot, but it also draws on the estranged siblings cliche as well. And, honestly, the whole first part of the film is pretty weak. The exorcism does reveal something we need to know later but it’s poorly staged. The sequence with Jane at least has some nice jump scares, but nothing else is remotely frightening and the jumping around between characters gets confusing.
The biggest problem with Infrared, however, is that nothing scary happens until close to the end of the film. Even after Geoff leaves the team on its own nothing interesting happens. We get drama centred around Wes and Izzy. That would have been fine as a subplot, but it repeatedly steals the film’s focus and just plain bored me. I didn’t know enough about them to really care about their issues with each other and it wasn’t presented in a particularly compelling fashion either.
Watching everyone walk around while what looks like a stud finder beeps wouldn’t be scary even if we hadn’t seen it so many times before. It’s not until the last fifteen minutes or so that things actually get scary. Just what the evil in the building actually was did surprise me and was fairly frightening. Then they toss in a final shot that felt distinctly out of place and more like a “gotcha” video I’d see on Facebook than something from an actual film.
Infrared does get some good use out of its main location. Livings was also the cinematographer and he does make the empty school look ominous. But unfortunately, the film’s tired script nullifies that. If they wanted to make an old-school found footage film they needed to emulate something like Grave Encounters and give the audience plenty to be scared of.
Terror Films will make Infrared available on Digital platforms on July 22nd, on the Terror Films YouTube Channel on July 29th, and on Kings of Horror on August 5th. You can check their website for more information. If you’re looking for something similar to watch, FilmTagger has a few suggestions.