A combination of meticulous set design, well-shot scenes, great casting choices, and an intriguing storyline ultimately makes for a great ‘Paranormal’ experience
Set in 1969, Cairo, "Paranormal" follows Refaat Ismail (Ahmed Amin), a haematologist with a dark sense of humour, who refuses to believe in the supernatural.
The season opens with Refaat's old friend and flame Maggie (Razane Jammal), a Scottish academic, who arrives in Egypt on a university grant, just as Refaat is due to marry his cousin, Huwaida (Aya Samaha), a pretty but naive schoolteacher.
Watch the trailer of "Paranormal" here
These characters, along with other members of Refaat's family and circle, including his sister Raeefa (Samma Ibrahim), older brother Reda (Rushdi Al Shami), and young nephew Taha (Adam Wahdan), become embroiled in a number of seemingly supernatural mysteries, with Refaat cast as the reluctant paranormal investigator.
The first season consists of six episodes; each stretching 45-55 minutes. It has an overall story arc with a continuous storyline, but each episode brings in a new spooky paranormal incident or adventure.
"Paranormal" is a very fun watch, with some scary moments, thrilling action, and a very tragic ghost story to deliver an emotionally charged journey. The characters and humour will get you hooked to this series from the very beginning.
Rehaat started seeing a ghost of a girl called Shiraz in his childhood. She tried causing some serious harm to Rehaat as a child, following which, Refaat and his family snapped ties with her.
A smart man who is obsessed with Murphy's Law - anything that can possibly go wrong, will go wrong - Refaat invents his own laws in an attempt to make sense of the unexplainable things going on around him.
Refaat made himself believe Shiraz was never real and thus, his life becomes a voyage towards trying to get rid of Shiraz's hold on him and later, saving her from purgatory, and giving her salvation.
The journey to Shiraz's identity is very interestingly split into six episodes, dealing with six different victims, and their supernatural situation.
From an ancient cursed mummy to a giant ape-like beast in the desert, a wronged dead woman's vengeance to even more common incubus - the stories are sprinkled with Arabic lore from the hieroglyphs. And each tale takes Rehaat on an adventure that eventually turns him from a skeptic to a believer.
While unfolding the mysteries, the show also highlights some real issues like honour killings, society's behavior towards children out of wedlock, and superstitions.
Written by Amr Salama and directed by him and Majid Al Ansari, "Paranormal" is the first Egyptian Netflix original series that is based on novelist Ahmed Khaled Tawfik's book series - "Paranormal" - which has an astounding 81 titles.
All the "Paranormal" characters are pretty amazing, but let us begin with the lead character Refaat. Being a comedian, playing such a role of an anxious cynical introverted yet brilliant professor is a big leap for Ahmed Amin. He is truly brilliant in it.
Ayah Samaha is excellent as Howaida. She is a gentle, modest, unassuming soul who loves her fiancé but she was also able to portray the anguish of one-sided love in a realistic way.
Razane Jammal is decent as Maggie. Though she is a British-Lebanese actress, Razane does well with what has been given to her. Though sometimes, her Scottish accent is a bit irritating.
Reem Abd El Kader is excellent as Shiraz, the ten-year-old girl who is haunting the Ismail family. She is spooky in most scenes but absolutely charming in certain scenes. She easily outdoes most of the older and more experienced actors in the series.
Paranormal has quite a unique look. Its black colour palette shrouds everything in darkness and constantly maintains an eerie atmosphere. The cinematography by Ahmed Beshary and set design create the perfect tone for this series.
Paranormal does well with its screenplay and weaves it with the culture and traditions of Egypt beautifully. The costume and set designs look beautiful and rooted in the time it is supposed to be. Additionally, Khaled Al Kammar's music is spectacular and the theme that plays throughout is truly morose and creepy and adds to "Paranormal's" vibe flawlessly.
However, "Paranormal" is a show that is enjoyable for the most part but will drag sometimes. The ghosts and the stories are somewhat clichéd. Fans of horror will be disappointed at the lack of scares, however, expect ample amounts of spooks and a few jump-scares.
A combination of meticulous set design, well-shot compositions of scenes, great casting choices, and an intriguing storyline ultimately make up a great "Paranormal" experience when it comes to the show's first season.
Being a first of its kind for Egyptian television, it will leave the audience hopeful for the future of Egyptian film and television.
If you are a fan of mystery, fantasy, thriller, horror, adventure, and humor, do yourself a favour and check out this this series on Netflix.
You will definitely crave for more as the ending has a big surprise waiting for you.