Reviewed by Caitlyn Grey
Buying a paranormal item off the Black Market—what could possibly go wrong? For paranormal thrill seeker Chris Chambers (played by Chris Chambers), he’s about to find out. After watching endless videos on YouTube following the Dybbuk Box Challenge and being skeptical himself whether these boxes are real, Chambers decides to purchase one for himself. However, he quickly finds that one box is listed for trade and not for sale. This lingers with Chambers as he remembers seeing that the witches who distribute these boxes can’t sell dark items like these. The only way for them to change hands would be if a trade was made. Thinking this box is a true Dybbuk Box, Chambers goes ahead and trades cryptocurrency for it. After a two week wait, the package arrives smelling rancid. Prior to breaking the seal of the box, Chambers runs a series of paranormal tests. After proving there’s something off about the box, as Chambers describes as it almost being like another person in the room, he cuts it open and examines the items inside. At which point, the paranormal tests cease to occur around the box. Instead, lights begin to flicker and paintings fall off the wall. In a very Paranormal Activity-inspired idea, Chambers purchases several security cameras to capture the strange occurrences in his apartment.
After a few days, Chambers invites his friend Sarah (played by Sarah Bently) over for a visit so he can confirm that he’s not crazy and that there are paranormal occurrences happening around him. The next few minutes of emotionless line delivery advances the story as far as to let us know Sarah previously had a paranormal encounter when she was ten years old, something the spirits of the Dybbuk Box seem to have already known. As the story progresses more and more unseen forces mess with Chambers’ livelihood. He’s no longer able to sleep and items move around the house on their own. The sixty-minute film wraps up with an abrupt camera malfunction, followed by a short series of updates on Chambers’ health.
If you’re like me and go into this indie film with the mindset that it’s going to be a poorly made, boring movie you’ll be pleasantly surprised. While the film was very slow moving, I was astonished by its high-quality camera and sound production. By using, what I assume to be, a DSLR camera to shoot with it made the whole setting seems much more like I was watching a series of videos on YouTube rather than a movie, which is what I assume the writer and director were going for. Another aspect that helped create this relaxed, homemade video feel was how the acting was very natural. The editors allowed for Chambers to stumble over words, get distracted by environmental things, and more. I appreciate this. What lost me in the second half of Dybbuk Box- The True Story of Chris Chambers was the overly relaxed commentary, especially during the scene where friend Sarah arrives. During this scene, Bently just delivers her memorized lines instead of reacting to what was going on around her. The most unrealistic part of this movie was how neither of them was scared throughout any of the recorded hauntings.
Does Dybbuk Box- The True Story of Chris Chambers have the next great scare factor? Sadly, no. I found no parts of this film scary, suspenseful, or nail-biting. Maybe it was because of the lack of background music or sound, maybe because I wasn’t emotionally invested in either character, or maybe it was because the acting was so relaxed that I felt comfortable even during the parts of the camera focusing on the window curtains for seconds before they pull apart. All in all, I give this film 0 out of 5 possessed dolls.
Putting the scary stuff aside, I think this movie was actually done very well. While some parts completely lost my interest, creatively it was great. It captured the essence of what creating vlog or documentary content for YouTube is all about, particularly the paranormal videos. As someone who guiltily admits to binging videos like this by creators, I can say that Dybbuk Box- The True Story of Chris Chambers nails it perfectly. Don’t believe me? See for yourself then. Go on YouTube and find any paranormal vlogger. You’ll see the same stuff in this film as you do online with the only difference being there’s underacting here whereas on YouTube everything is over the top and dramatic. Another creative characteristic of this film that I truly appreciate is the commentary on trying the latest social media trend without considering any potential outcome of said trend. All in all, I give Dybbuk Box- The True Story of Chris Chambers 2 out of 5 stars. It’s not the best horror movie I’ve seen, but it’s not the worst. And, for less than 15 people being credited for the film, I’m sure it’s better than other horror content you’ve seen elsewhere.
If you want to watch Dybbuk Box- The True Story of Chris Chambers for yourself, it’s available for free with an Amazon Prime Video subscription.
Caitlyn Grey is a horror and suspense author who loves all things creepy. Her first novel, Lost Girls, debuted early this year, with a second novel expected to be released this upcoming fall. As a lover of what most would find obscure, Grey prides herself on her unique and quirky personality. She credits her love for all things horror and paranormal to all of the Stephen King, Wes Craven, and Edgar Allan Poe works she started experiencing at the tender age of eight. While most children her age were playing with friends, she was making up stories of shadow figures appearing at the foot of a child’s bed in the middle of the night. The rest, as the story goes, is history. Now, fifteen years later, Grey has devoted her life to scaring the next generation, as her idols had for her.