Demon House (2018): Warning – Actual Demons Not Included

Available today on multiple streaming services, Demon House (2018) is the feature-length spin-off of the popular, long-running television series, Ghost Adventures. Based on a series of allegedly real paranormal experiences at the Ammons House in Gary, Indiana, Demon House follows Zack Bagans’ investigation into the case following his purchase of the infamous house. The highly effective trailer promises a disturbing glance into a paranormal phenomenon. Additionally, advance reviews were pretty glowing.

Documentary, Mockumentary, or Just Bullshit

I’ll preface my review of Demon House with the following confession – I am naturally curious about the occult and paranormal, but firmly skeptical. Demon House is listed as a documentary on its IMDb page, while its Wikipedia entry describes the film as a mockumentary. Quite frankly, you could just label this as complete and utter bullshit.

Demon House

At the start of Demon House, a written warning appears on the screen and while it could have just advertised itself as “based on a true story”, Zak Bagans has to go the extra mile and caution that just watching the film could expose the viewers to the risk of demonic possession. And with that warning I knew I was in for 90 minutes of pretentious posturing and exaggeration. Unfortunately, Bagans’ tendency for confabulation and melodrama characterizes the majority of the film. A straightforward, journalistic re-telling of the Ammons House by itself would have made for an interesting documentary. Instead Bagans includes multiple scenes of himself or crew members “acting out” under the supposed demonic influence of the house. In one scene, Bagans “lunges” at a crew member and, later in the documentary, another crew member becomes agitated in a hotel. These moments are more embarrassing than frightening.

All Filler, No Killer

It takes an hour and 20 minutes before Bagan actually seals himself in the house …

The vast majority of Demon House involves either dramatic re-enactments of alleged supernatural activities or the kind of “confessional” moments involving Bagans and his crew described above. There is very little actual investigation included in the film, which is quite contrary to what the trailer promises audiences. Only one moment in the film resonates as actual investigation – a home inspector discovers mould and carbon monoxide leaking from the furnace, which may have impacted the residents. It takes an hour and 20 minutes before Bagans actually seals himself in the house, windows and doorway boarded up, to spend the night and, you know, actually try to capture some evidence. Things almost get interesting at this point with one genuinely creepy moment. Sadly, Bagans can’t seem to help himself and immediately following this development with more contrived narration and unfounded yarns.

Warning: Actual Demon Not Included

The Biggest Douche in the Universe

Everything he says and does in Demon House feels forced and intentionally over-the-top…

Throughout the entire run time of Demon House, I was constantly reminded of the South Park episode, The Biggest Douche in the Universe. Like the subject of that episode, alleged psychic John Edwards, director and paranormal investigator Zak Bagans comes across as a pretentious carnival barker. Everything he says and does in Demon House feels forced and intentionally over-the-top, which is a problem because Bagans is front and centre for the entirety of the film. On Ghost Adventures, Bagans may be tolerable for hour broken up with commercials, but in a 90-plus minute film where he is almost omnipresent, I found myself wishing that a portal to hell would open and suck me in.

The Megalodon of Paranormal Documentaries

Whether Demon House was intended as a serious documentary or an in-joke “mockumentary” the result is an utter waste of time. I honestly have not felt this ripped off watching a film since the Discovery Channel aired that Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives “mockumentary” for Shark Week. I laughed out loud several times at Bagans’ forced sincerity and exaggeration. If you enjoy sensationalized documentaries you would be better served to sample one of the dozen or so documentaries on Netflix right now. The most disturbing part of Demon House was that they took boards off the house doorway and let Bagans out to dump this turd.

THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: F

Advertisements

Author: Andrew Welsh

I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

3 thoughts

  1. Professor Welsh,

    I truly enjoyed reading your piece. Like yourself, I am a staunch skeptic; and like yourself, I find Zak Bagans to be a douche – a narcistic, egotistical megalomaniac. I can’t necessarily agree, however, that The Demon House — or at least the paranormal aura surrounding the story — was total BS. Put Bagans to the side, there are a number of disturbing facts about the house itself, and some of the people who had connections to the house in some way. First, Dr Taft, a highly educated and seemingly rational scientist, did in fact fall suddenly and unexplainably ill just hours after having investigated the house. A sudden onset of progressive organ failure isn’t normal in a man in overall good health with no prior health issues. He also experienced nightmares, instances of sleep paralysis, auditory/visual hallucinations, and bleeding from both ears (an occurrence for which doctors were unable to establish a cause or origin). Shortly after the film’s release, and just briefly subsequent to speaking with Bagans in regards to the house, Dr. Taft again had seemingly paranormal experiences, fell exremely ill, and actually spent nearly 24 hours in a coma – with doctors again baffled at his sudden onset of progressive organ failure. Of the two child case managers who had involvement with the Ammons family, one was involved in a serious accident, while the other quit her job, moved away, and sought psychiatric therapy. Both of these incidents occurred very shortly following their individual involvement with the case. Debbie, the psychic medium who attempted to assist Bagans with the case, was brutally murdered about 15 days following her involvement. I also cannot ignore the findings, experiences and reports of the many seasoned law enforcement officers who had dealings with the house. Finally, while Zak Bagans’ self-serving “evidence” isn’t very compelling, it is 100% confirmed that Zak did in fact incur permanent and unexplainable eye damage following his “sealed in” session in Demon House. Last but not least, the rites of exorcism performed by the ordained priests in this case could never have been performed without the strict consent of high ranking church officials. The Catholic Church is extremely skeptical to these types of cases by default. They correctly acknowledge that a large percentage of such occurrences can be explained via rational cause and, thus, are not paranormal in nature. To obtain permission for even a minor rite, a priest must provide the church with more than a mere hunch. Substantial evidence is required for a full traditional rite of exorcism.
    While I do share your skeptical viewpoints in general, I must respectfully request that you review these rather disturbing facts more liberally. But again, I truly enjoyed your piece and respect your educated opinion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s