The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt (2020) – Film Review

the parapod film review main

Cast: Ian Boldsworth, Barry Dodds
Director: Ian Boldsworth

By @Roger Crow

Horror comedies should be scary and funny, but they’re rarely both. As horror and comedy feed off one another, laughing is obviously a great relief after a build up of tension, then it’s usually easier to crank up the suspense and slot in a killer gag afterwards. But even with all of those winning elements, get the wrong cast and a project can be dead in the water.

Thankfully, Ian Boldsworth and Barry Dodds are a winning comedy double act, Geordies with a natural appeal which grows stronger as things get weirder.

Dodds is the believer, someone who thinks things going bump in the night is a sign from the afterlife rather than a creaking floorboard. Boldsworth is the sceptic, who gleefully picks holes in his mate’s spooky beliefs. As they embark on a road trip around the UK in a Ghostbusters-style hearse, the blend of documentary, comedy and suspense is a compelling mix.

the parapod film review car

Boldsworth is clearly the stronger comic force, and not just because his looks to camera as he breaks the fourth wall is pure Oliver Hardy, but his arguments are intelligent, well thought out and natural. Dodds’ case for the weird and wonderful is usually more faith driven. He’s more likely to believe in spooky shenanigans because it’s dark, he’s tired or on medication.

Which of course is the argument against such bizarre goings on. ‘What state was the so-called believer in when they witnessed this apparition?’ being the case for any skeptics.

However, after 40 minutes of the duo chasing around the UK looking for proof of the afterlife, Dodds has a genuinely chilling encounter in Edinburgh, the audio of which is used in the first few minutes. By the time it plays out, this is exactly the wake-up call viewers need to start taking things more seriously. Did Barry actually see something that terrified him? Does Ian finally believe there is more to the case than meets the eye? Well, what follows during the rest of the film is equally fascinating, especially when the duo meet a formidable woman in Pontefract who clearly has issues with our likeable pair.

the parapod film review doc

Great spoof documentaries have to love their subject matter and tread that fine line between reality and nonsense to work. With a foot in both camps, this definitely hits its mark time and again with some genuinely laugh out loud funny moments.

Boldsworth and Dodds have that Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington appeal of a duo on opposite sides of a belief, but whose quest to reach some sort of understanding generates comedy gold.

It could have done with a little trimming, but Parapod is still great entertainment, with some moments of visual splendour – a drone shot of a snow-kissed church is excellent.

Having seen it once I may have to watch it again, especially at Halloween when I’m sure the movie works best.

I’m fascinated to see what Boldsworth and Dodds do next. A similar experience in the States would not be the most unwelcome prospect once we get back to some sort of (para)normality.

The ParaPod – A Very British Ghost Hunt is coming to select cinemas from 7th September - find your closest cinema here: and you can catch it on VOD from 27th September

1 comment

  1. William Hawthorne 4 September, 2021 at 02:34 Reply

    This review of the film has a couple of problematic points. To set the record straight, this is NOT a spoof documentary. The movie is apparently, questionably, unscripted and follows the two leads on their journey to the find out the truth about ghosts and the paranormal. The movie was crowdfunded by devotees of the Parapod and has been several years in production, hindered by the pandemic but now making its way to the fans who still remember it.

    The next problem relates to comments made when discussing the comic strengths of the leads. Those familiar with the Parapod podcast this story is based on will be aware that Dodds is the source of the humour. Boldsworth simply reacts with bewilderment whilst Dodds spins another far-fetched tale or tries to bluff his way out of his contemporaries ire with some pseudo-science he has picked up from Wikipedia. Boldsworth, as a skeptic, could be replaced by anyone who could drag Dodds out of his shell and start talking. The film is very weighted in the favor of Boldsworth and as the director and producer this could be an unintentional outcome but it must be considered when reviewing.

    The film is a mildly entertaining journey but the editing and pacing is amateurish in places. Any cinephile will notice montage shots clumsily lead to nothing and one would consider why they are there at all. A good editor would have fixed this with at least a humorous out or would remove them entirely from the piece, they simply slow the movie down for no good reason. The worst sequence lies in the ending which is given a large build yet leads to nothing. There is a limp joke whilst Dodds looks confused and walks away, the narrative of the movie vanishing in seconds. The film splutters to an end with no resolution or satisfying climax. Dodds appears to be reading from a script in this final act and fails to give a convincing performance, even when surrounded by such a dramatic landscape. This is Boldsworth’s first attempt at directing and whilst promising, he needs a decent editor who can make the production into the professional piece it claims to be and he should give serious consideration to letting a more experienced eye make the sequel. The chemistry between the pair that made the podcast a hit is missing – apart from an excellent scene in which they discuss religion – and as a fan from way back, I can only say I was disappointed. Two stars, some funny bits.

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.