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In 2014, a demon possession story out of Gary, Indiana caused a worldwide media sensation. It included claims that a boy had walked backwards up a hospital emergency room wall, and that a priest had performed multiple exorcisms. Famous paranormal investigator Zak Bagans was producing an episode of his popular television series when the story broke; he then bought the location of the haunting a day later over the phone, sight unseen. “This was it!” thought Zak, the Host and Creator of Ghost Adventures on Travel Channel, who has investigated over 1,000 hauntings. “The mega-story I’ve always wanted to investigate." It was the next Amityville. But Zak and his crew were unprepared for what awaited them at a house that was possessed by “200 demons.” Zak suffered from a debilitating illness, crew members quit and were fired, people nearly died... Zak even started to wonder if just viewing the film could open audiences up to possession themselves - had he made a movie too dangerous to release?
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Even before reaching our screens, the film has developed its own mythos. Three years in the making, its release was pushed back multiple times. At the beginning, Bagans explains that this is due to the production being “cursed,” claiming that the case were afflicted with a host of unexplained injuries, illnesses, and miscellaneous cases of bad fortune, all of which is said to be attributable to their connection with the Demon House. A disclaimer at the beginning of the movie warns the unwary that demons may be able to attach themselves via electronic means (a sort of demonic computer virus?) and that you should therefore only watch at your own risk. It’s either a sincere gesture of concern on his part, or a very shrewd piece of marketing akin to that dreamed up by the late William Castle, the master of movie-making gimmickry.
The events documented in the film are essentially this: a family living in a fairly innocuous-looking home in Gary, Indiana, are plagued by a series of terrifying events that are said to be demonic in nature. The children supposedly become possessed, culminating in one of them walking backwards up a wall in full view of social services staff and mental health professionals. As the phenomena intensified, witnesses grew to include a number of police officers, who would be considered reliable witnesses in a court of law — so why not in the realm of the paranormal? At the same time, the family doctor writes this all off as being nothing more than a mass delusion.
If there’s one thing I really dislike about the film, it’s the Ghost Adventures—esque dramatic recreations. They’re notst bad, they’re cringeworthy. The scene in which a young boy walks up the wall is just appallingly bad. The movie would have presented a much more compelling case without scenes like this. Bagans knows his audience, however, and doesn’t mess with the tried and tested Ghost Adventures formula too much.
Bagans eventually purchases the house sight unseen, with the express intent of making a documentary movie about the alleged demonic infestation. The family refuse to cooperate, out of fear that the haunting will follow them — although they seem happy enough to talk to Hollywood executives about selling the movie rights to their story. Bagans, his crew, and colleagues such as Dr. Barry Taff begin to fall prey to the dark entities (there are said to be 200 demons inside the house) and we see footage of violent behavior on the part of Bagans and others. One crew member quits on the spot, another has to be fired due to his aggressive behavior.
It’s difficult to say how much of the story is factual and how much is a figment of the original occupants and the director/star’s imagination, but I have to give Zak Bagans big props for his willingness to look at both sides of the story. He dismisses a photograph which supposedly shows some kind of entity in the front window of the house as “probably coming from a phone app” (he’s right on the money) and points out that some family members insist that none of the events happened as described. Squatters living in the home say that there’s nothing out of the ordinary happening, and a property inspection reveals mold and other environmental factors that might induce hallucinations. It’s nice to see Zak attempting a little debunking, something he rarely indulges in on TV any longer.
Every movie needs a climax, and in the case of Demon House it involves Zak being boarded up inside his own house in order to trap himself inside with the demonic entities and “let them have their best shot at me.” He records a piece of audio evidence that is more than a little chilling to hear. After this “final showdown,” he takes the advice of a local cop and has the place bulldozed, keeping a few bits and pieces of its structure to exhibit in his Vegas-based Haunted Museum.
Quite frankly, I expected to loathe this movie. To me, Ghost Adventures is the equivalent of location porn. Bagans and his crew get into some incredible places, but I don’t really appreciate their ‘investigative’ methods — as in a recent episode in which he seriously suggested that the notoriously fickle Colorado weather might be attributable to demonic influence(!) As things turned out, I liked about 80% of Demon House. The story was compelling, and there was less shaky-cam than the TV show. As some have already pointed out, this is basically a longer episode of Ghost Adventures, but the stylistic approach is a little more palatable to me.
We’ll never know how much of the paranormal activity presented in the documentary is genuine and how much of it isn’t. Zak’s huge cadre of fans will no doubt love the movie with little or no reservation. His detractors will hate every frame. For the average person in the street, I suspect that they will find Demon House to be something of an oddity; much better than the average no-budget para-documentary crap that appears on Amazon Prime, but hardly definitive proof of the existence of ghosts, spirits, or demons. Some will find it suitable for a few scares, and others will perhaps find it thought-provoking. Personally, I found it to be worth the $12.99 I plunked down to see the movie, and I’d go so far as to say that I’d like to see more documentaries in this vein from Bagans. The man can certainly tell a story. Demon House will no doubt be a point of contention among members of the paranormal community for quite some time. I’d definitely recommend giving it a watch.
The narrator/main character/total con-artist talks about these dreams he had of demons that sound suspiciously like stuff he read about in a D&D Monster Manual, and he's backed up by a total quack of a doctor who's supposed to be some big demonologist and a Catholic priest who's either nothing of the sort or was willing to play along for a fat donation to the church. It always amuses me when people make "documentaries" like this where they want to start talking about Christian rites and beliefs despite the fact that they know absolutely nothing about Christianity.
I suspect this steaming turd of a movie took 3 years to make because they had nothing to put in it and had to scramble to add dramatic re-enactments and find anyone at all willing to read their terrible script and play along. This guy is a total fraud and this movie should be the end of his career - not because it's "cursed," but because it's complete garbage.