Astral – UK, 2018

‘Evil never dies’

Astral is a 2018 British pseudo-scientific paranormal horror feature film produced and directed by Chris Mul (shorts: Two Line Terrors) from a screenplay co-written with Michael Mul. The Craven Street production stars Vanessa Grasse, Frank Dillane, Catherine Steadman and Trevor White.

Plot:

Coming to terms with the explanation of his mother’s untimely death, Alex (Frank Dillane) turns to spiritual contact after the relationship with his father breaks down. As a student of metaphysics, Alex learns of the “scientific” premise of astral projection – the ability to project your spirit into an unseen spatial dimension.

While attempting to astral project, Alex becomes plagued by shadow spirits – malevolent entities vying to enter his body to access our world. Alex soon learns that he is not the only member of his family to have been besieged by such beings, as his mother’s dark past is brought to his attention…

Reviews:

” …Mul should be applauded for keeping the hammer down when things begin to lull at times. Silent moments are extremely effective in a horror film, especially when your audience is waiting for that inevitable “BOOM!” to overtake the reticence, but here it was as if the silence grew legs and dragged us all with it.” Matt Boiselle, Brainwaves

“The creep factor is at 11 there. Yet, with this lovely ambiguity and mystery, we are left with a rather flat resolution. Oh and you can forget about the other plot set up at the beginning of the film much less the commentary therein. Astral is a mediocre supernatural thriller at best.” Norman Gidney, Film Threat

“The building psychosis vs. paranormal aspect of our main character Alex certainly brought tension to screen, but Mul’s reliance on shadowing and music attributed to the success of these scenes. The opening sequence in particular is incredibly well done and genuinely engaging […] It has some really well done elements and good casting, it only began to falter a hair in the final act.” Amanda M. Sink, The Hollywood Outsider

“Astral is a well-crafted film. The premise of the story set around autumnal university grounds gives the film a classic British ghost-story aesthetic. The narrative unravels as if it was perhaps written as a short story which is why, despite its safeness in structure, it works consistently from start to finish.” Simret Cheema-Innis, Horror DNA

Astral is an excellent addition to the genre, doing justice to its clear Hitchcockian influences. The movie’s few weaknesses are easily forgiven thanks to the great plot, exceptional attention to detail and surprising twists.” Frankie Torok, Horror Geek Life

Astral is a rather smart and compelling marriage of mysterious scientific inquiry and demonic horror. In terms of tone, a decent comparison would be the original Flatliners, especially given the collegiate setting (RHUL’s Founder’s Building is indeed enormously cinematic). Eventually, it goes full-bore into horror, but it is a smooth and logical transition.” Joel Bendel, J.B. Spins

Astral will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck as you check the corner of your room for shadow spirits. Considering the limited time and budget Astral had, it really is a deliciously freaky movie that will surely please horror movie enthusiasts.” Kelly Potter, Ready Steady Cut!

“It’s moody and creepy in its buildup, it makes good use of its filming locations around the University of London, and it has a bunch of good, young actors. Unfortunately, Astral doesn’t stick the landing – its third act comes on way to fast and then jumps into a different subgenre. But I enjoyed the movie up to that point and would recommend it.” Jeffrey Knight, Zeke Film

Release:

Vertical Entertainment released Astral theatrically and on VOD on November 23, 2018.

Cast and characters:

  • Vanessa Grasse … Alyssa Hodge – Leatherface
  • Frank Dillane … Alex Harmann – Fear the Walking Dead
  • Catherine Steadman … Claire Harmann – Outpost: Black Sun
  • Trevor White … Gareth Powell
  • Damson Idris … Jordan Knight
  • Darwin Shaw … Joel Harmann
  • Ned Porteous … Ben Lawrence
  • Mark Aiken … Dr. James Lefler
  • Juliet Howland … Michelle Collins
  • Jennifer Brooke … Karina Richardson

Filming locations:

Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, England
Wimbledon, London, England

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