When it comes to hauntings, audiences are arguably most well acquainted with the haunted house. Yet supernatural beings and entities can haunt all manner of places and indeed items of clothing – as is the case of Phantom Project (Proyecto Fantasma) where the haunted item in question is an unassuming cardigan.
Roberto Doveris’ new film follows aspiring actor Pablo. Whilst Pablo waits for his big acting break, he makes ends meet by working as a simulated patient in medical schools. Frustrated by work and still hung up on his Youtuber ex-boyfriend, Pablo’s problems are made even worse when his roommate moves out leaving him not only struggling to pay rent but also with an abandoned dog and a haunted cardigan.
Phantom Project is led by a great central performance from Juan Cano who plays Pablo. Whether it is because you recognise traits of Pablo in yourself or in people that you know, he is someone who is immediately likeable and plausible. Phantom Project will also be recognisable for audiences who pursue, or have pursued, any type of creative career and they will empathise with the frustration of trying to make a breakthrough. The audience roots for Pablo throughout.
Phantom Project is a film which touches upon several genres. It has elements of the supernatural, it has animated sequences, it is at times akin to a romantic comedy, it is a coming of age and it also addresses what it is like to be a struggling creative. It would be difficult for any film to successfully juggle all of these ideas and as such Phantom Project does feel tonally uneven.
Individually, each of these components are interesting but the difficulty comes from trying to make them all connect in a meaningful and cohesive narrative. For example the haunted cardigan is much more of a secondary idea and though it gives life to some of the film’s most memorable scenes, including a ghost sex scene, it becomes almost a throwaway. It is clear that Doveris has some really intriguing ideas and means for much of the film to be representative of the ways our lives change constantly and often in ways we do not expect. However, with so many different tonal changes, these ideas are much harder for the audience to connect to.
Phantom Project is a great concept that loses a lot of its punch in the execution. Often feeling episodic rather than cinematic, Phantom Project may have worked more effectively as either a short or a series of episodes. In trying to have a wide appeal with a number of genres, Phantom Project ends up feeling slightly niche.
Romance, Comedy | Chile, 2022 | 15 | 4th October (US Cinemas), 24th October (U.S.A DVD/VOD) | Dark Star Pictures | Dir.Roberto Doveris | Juan Cano, Ingrid Isensee, Violeta Castillo