Horror, thriller, fantasy, drama, and a pinch of romance are all the different genres incorporated to build the entity which is; Paranormal. Netflix’s first Egyptian horror show, based on the popular thriller novel series written by the late Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, is set in the 1960s Egypt and packed with mystery and suspense. Paranormal’s lead character is Dr Refaat Ismail; a 40-year-old haematologist who finds himself plunged into a series of supernatural events. With that, the adventures begin as he attempts to resolve the mysteries behind each extraordinary and abnormal occurrence.
The show starts off a bit slow as it sets the tone. As it goes on, you begin to dive more into the protagonist’s life and past. The specific style of dark and dreary ambience stays throughout all the episodes; you rarely see any bright scenes. The beginning will definitely creep you out, and there are a few jump-scares thrown here and there. Paranormal takes you on a spooky adventure with its sceptical protagonist, who approaches all the abnormal events from a realistic perspective. He refuses to believe what he sees and remembers, thinking that his memories are self-manufactured and are not real, ignoring his intertwining with the supernatural since childhood and dismissing the fact that he had a crush on a girl who turned out to be a ghost. A bit delusional, huh? The show has a mixture of culture and genres, with the culture represented pulling from different styles; it goes from spirits and hauntings to mummies, lucid dreaming, and mythical creatures. You never know what’s coming next and the unpredictability of the events keeps you hooked and on the edge of your seat.
Ahmad Amin nailed it with his outstanding performance and portrayed the weird, quirky sides of his character so effectively; we loved Dr Refaat. We liked the cynicism, sarcasm, and dark humour. He struggles between the mental conflict of sticking to his scientific convictions and rationality or believing in a world he always denied the existence of; he wanted to prove the disproven of the paranormal. There were times when we were frustrated with the character, wanting him to speak his mind more often. We got to hear a lot of the dialogue within his mind and wanted him to be able to express those emotions. But he’s an awkward character; he’s unsure of himself, he’s nervous and anxious most of the time. Then he’ll suddenly he go off on a scientific route with his team of paranormal investigators and instantly comes out of his shell and shows a brave, decisive, fearless side, saving the day in every episode. The character definitely develops throughout the show as he goes through a journey of acceptance and growth. The rest of the casting is very well-picked, as is the clothing, style, the portrayal of well-known childhood myths, and how it all unfolds, tackling real existing issues of today. Ahmad Khaled Tawfik’s work materialising into a show of this magnitude means so much to a generation of the horror/thriller genre enthusiasts.
Paranormal is one of the better shows on Netflix in its genre this year. Ranking number one in the ‘Top Ten in Egypt Today’ list and amongst the top ten most-watched shows in several countries across the world is a phenomenal achievement, considering these genres are not popular in our region. So hats off to directors Amr Salama and Majid Al Ansari for taking such a risk. The show thoroughly deserves all the recognition it’s getting, and the only downside was the CGI, which was poorly executed. Not only is Paranormal spooky and creepy, but it’s also mixed with some family drama and even a love triangle which definitely adds a fun element to the show. It’s absolutely brilliant; it has culture, history, wonderful actors, and an exceptional script which pays tribute to the books of Ahmad Khaled Tawfik’s but also had its own spin on them.