Available today on multiple streaming services, Demon House (2018) is the feature-length spin-off of the popular, long-running television series, Ghost Adventures. This ‘documentary’ is based on an allegedly real paranormal experience at the Ammons House in Gary, Indiana. Specifically, 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 inexplicably glowing.
Demon House – 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. Nevertheless, I’m also firmly skeptical. Demon House IMDb page lists it as a documentary. Conversely, Wikipedia describes the movie as a mockumentary. Quite frankly, you could just label this as complete and utter bullshit.
At the start of Demon House, a written warning appears on the screen. Tt could have just advertised itself as “based on a true story”, but 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 pretty much defines the entire movie. 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. 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 …
Most of Demon House involves either dramatic re-enactments of alleged supernatural activities or contrived “confessional” moments. Though the trailer promised an in-depth investigation, there very little ‘investigating’ in the movie. Only one moment resonates as an actual investigation. A home inspector discovers mould and carbon monoxide leaking from the furnace, which may have influenced the residents. Bagans and company quickly dismiss this blockbuster revelation.
It takes an hour and 20 minutes before Bagans actually seals himself in the house. the windows and doorway are boarded up. Bagans promises 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 almost immediately derails everything with more contrived voice-overs.
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 Demon House, I was reminded of the South Park episode, The Biggest Douche in the Universe. Like the subject of that episode, alleged psychic John Edwards, director Zak Bagans comes across as a pretentious carnival barker. Everything he says and does in Demon House feels forced and intentionally over-the-top. That Bagans is front and centre for the entirety of the film then becomes a serious problem. On Ghost Adventures, Bagans may be tolerable for hour broken up with commercials. Yet 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 is a serious documentary or an in-joke “mockumentary” the result is a waste of time. To be honest, I haven’t felt this ripped off since Discovery aired that fake Megalodon special for Shark Week. I did laugh 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 many documentaries on Netflix. The most disturbing part of Demon House was that they took boards off the house doorway and let Bagans out to dump this turd.