Greg Sestero is perhaps best known for his first starring role in Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 film The Room. However, he has moved on since then and has written a book, The Disaster Artist, in addition to being in a number of films, including the upcoming film, Infrared, which will be available for streaming this year. While most may write the film off due to Greg’s association with The Room, this film shouldn’t be ignored.
Paranormal investigator Wes Wheatley (played by Jesse Janzen), his estranged sister Izzy (played by Leah Finity), and Wes’s film crew as they explore the Lincoln School in Sacramento, California, which has been abandoned after a gas leak occurred. The building is rumored to be haunted, with many previous paranormal investigators who’ve explored it going missing. Wes and Izzy interview a variety of people, including Geoff (played by Greg Sestero), a former teacher at the school, and discover abnormal amounts of paranormal activity that ultimately culminate into a real-life horror.
To begin, I’d like to say that I enjoyed the performances of Greg Sestero and Jesse Janzen. Jesse gave a vibrant performance as Wes and energized every scene he’s in. He perfectly portrayed the host of an amateur paranormal investigation show. However, the true star of the film is Greg Sestero as Geoff. He perfectly played the affable nature of a school teacher and Greg himself has so much natural charisma that I wanted to see more of him. Compared to his acting in The Room, this is a major improvement. Even though she had limited screen time, I also liked Ariel Ryan's performance as Jane, another paranormal investigator who went missing after exploring the Lincoln School. Ariel did a wonderful job portraying the snarky attitude of Jane as she gave a tour of the building and even pranked the audience at one point by pretending a ghost knocked on a door. It’s a shame we didn't get to see more of her. Finally, Leah Finity, while not as outgoing as the other three, was also very likeable as Izzy and acted as a good foil to Wes. Leah and Jesse shared good on-screen chemistry, and were believable in their roles.
Production-wise, the film did a good job of making itself look like an authentic found-footage feature. Oftentimes, too many Hollywood films try to emulate the found-footage style popularized by The Blair Witch Project, but fail due to cutting back and forth between a camcorder point of view, and a professional film camera to tell the story. In Infrared, the film was mostly shot in a much more unpolished manner and also avoided having the camera shake too much, allowing audiences to properly see what’s happening.
My biggest gripe with the film was its pacing. The film’s runtime added up to about an hour and a half, however, the beginning moved at a snail’s pace. I understand it was introducing characters and setting up the stage of what’s to happen, however, I felt it could’ve been done in a bit more of an interesting manner. Additionally, there are several scenes that could’ve been shortened down, for example, the séance conducted by Izzy. While the scene did a good job further introducing the character and how she differed from her brother, it went on for a bit too long. Another small nitpick I had with the film was Sarah’s demonic voice near the film’s beginning. It sounded too robotic and voice changer-esque.
With that said, the film excelled at building tension and intrigue. The film, similar to The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and many other great horror films, is a slow burn where you would have incredible difficulty pinpointing when the film’s tension starts. And it manages to do this with very few jump scares, which were well-integrated into the film. The tension was further helped by the characters being both engaging and charismatic. With this, I actually had some investment in where the story went, something that many other found-footage films fail to do, including both Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity.
Overall, Infrared is an engaging horror film that breathes new life into not only the genre, but also the found-footage subgenre. With great performances by Greg Sestero, Jesse Janzen and Leah Finity, along with an amazing buildup of tension, Infrared is a must-see film for horror fans!
Co-Written by: Owen Gonzalez