Spoiler-Free Review: “Department of Paranormal Affairs” (Calgary Underground Film Festival)

April 29, 2024

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at josephperry@gmail.com. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

If you’re in the mood for a brisk supernatural comedy, you need look no further than the new Canadian six-part episodic short-form series Department of Paranormal Affairs. The series boasts highly likable characters in decidedly irregular situations.

In the world of Department of Paranormal Affairs, ghosts, vampires, and other things that go bump in the night are real. This branch of the government deals with them in a different way than usual in series and movies. Rather than hunting them down to dispose of such entities, this agency looks to help them fit in positively with human society.

The department’s civil servants consist of Director Greg LeGrow (Donovan Workun), who does as little as possible; Scott Power (David Feehan), the straight-laced rule follower of the bunch; and new hire Jenny Hicks (Nancy Ngo), who initially would rather punch a ghost than read a book about how to properly deal with one.

Series creator Feehan, who shares screenwriting credits with Jessy Ardern, and director Michael Peterson have crafted a highly amusing series with a trio of main characters that are easy to invest in. Jenny provides modern-day screwball humor, Greg is a slightly-out-of-touch lazy-boss goofball, and Scott is the straight man to his oddball coworkers, though he has his own comical quirks. Ngo, Workun, and Feehan bring these characters to on-screen life wonderfully.

The situations the department employees find themselves in are light-hearted and the scare elements are minimal, which works just fine for this series. Some impressive practical effects are occasionally on display, with one episode in particular possessing the series’ most gruesome reveal.

With Department of Paranormal Affairs, workplace comedy meets supernatural elements. The result is a fun ride, and I’m hoping that the series continues for many more seasons after this initial one.

Department of Paranormal Affairs screens as part of the 21st Calgary Underground Film Festival, which runs April 18–28, 2024. For more information, visit https://www.calgaryundergroundfilm.org/.



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