If You've Never Watched A Ghost Hunting Show Before, Netflix's '28 Days Haunted' Is The Place To Start
Photo: © Netflix
If you're new to the world of ghost hunting television shows, then Netflix's new six-part series is the perfect place to start. '28 Days Haunted' premiered on the streaming platform on October 21 and thanks to its huge subscriber base is bringing the drama of paranormal investigation to a whole new potential audience.
The series embraces this new audience by ensuring each episode provides a gentle introduction to the genre, including jargon-busting explanations of paranormal terms and equipment which will help Netflix viewers who might not normally watch paranormal shows get stuck in.
The paranormal experiment at the heart of the series is based on the theories of the late, Ed and Lorraine Warren. The husband-and-wife investigation team are perhaps the most famous in US history, some of their 10,000 cases have been adapted into the biggest horror movies of all time, including 'The Conjuring' series.
The experiment is watched over by Tony Spera, the son-in-law of the Warrens. As well as serving as a paranormal consultant on the series, he also hosts alongside Aaron Sagers, a familiar face in the paranormal world having previously appeared on the US version of 'Paranormal Caught On Camera' and 'Paranormal Paparazzi'. He's also made guest appearances on 'Portals To Hell' and 'Paranormal Lockdown'. Aaron said, "when Tony called me about this experiment, it was something I knew I want to be a part of. If we can prove the existence of this 28 day cycle, it would be a total game changer."
Photo: © Netflix
Each of the six episodes follows the progress of three teams of investigators who are locked down inside of three haunted locations across America in Colorado, North Carolina and Connecticut for 28 days. The idea is reminiscent of early paranormal investigations, like that of the famous Borley Rectory in England that saw legendary paranormal investigator, Harry Price, move in for a whole year.
In the case of the Netflix series, it's a 28-day stretch, this is based on Ed and Lorraine's theory that in their cases it took 28 days to fully pierce the veil between the living and the dead. They claimed that this barrier becomes virtually non-existent at 28 days, allowing investigators to fully connect with what's lurking at a location. They called it the "28 day cycle."
Of course the Warrens couldn't have spent four weeks on all of their 10,000 cases as this would equate to over 800 years worth of investigations. However, after founding the New England Society for Psychic Research (NESPR) in 1952 they spent more than five decades investigating together, this would still allow for an impressive 600 month-long cases - had they worked together flat-out.
The Warrens believed that isolation was the key to the cycle, so the teams in the Netflix series had no communication with the outside world. One of the investigators in the series, Shane Pittman, admits that not being able to communicate with his family was hard. Shane, who's previously appeared in the Travel Channel series 'The Holzer Files', said in the series, "I left my wife and four kids in Georgia to be a part of this. I've not been away from my family this long."
The three teams of investigators were monitored at all times via static cameras rigged throughout the buildings, but at times there did seem to be camera crew with them, which is a shame as it means they're not fully cutoff from the outside world and even subconsciously, the crew might inadvertently influence the investigation.
The other way that the team aren't as cutoff as they might have been is through the placement of several meaningful items in the properties, like family photos relating to the ghosts stories. It might have been better for balance to throw in some red herrings to truly test the psychics' abilities, or remove all the suggestive items from locations all together.
Even still, there's no denying that the confinement and isolation is tough, just the thought of conducting a month of night vigils is shattering enough. This of course leads to much more emotional outbursts and conflicts than other paranormal shows. During the four weeks team members fall out, their methods and motives are questioned by their teammates and there's even an accusation of fakery. On day 13 Aaron noted "it really seems across the board, team dynamics are starting to breakdown."
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The series was filmed on location in Colorado, North Carolina and Ed and Lorraine's home state, Connecticut. The three haunted locations were chosen for their dark histories and increasingly aggressive hauntings. They were the historic Lumber Baron Inn in Denver, Madison Dry Goods, and Captain Grant's Inn in Preston.
Conducting the experiment at these locations were eight paranormal investigators forming three different teams, each stationed for 28 days at one of the haunted hotspots. The Lumber Baron Inn became home for paranormal investigator, Shane Pittman, who was joined by fellow investigator Ray Causey, and sensitive Amy Parks. Demonologist Jereme Leonard and fifth-generation psychic medium Brandy Miller took up residence for four weeks at Madison Dry Goods. And psychic medium Sean Austin, technical expert Nick Simons, and investigator Aaron G Thompson spent their time at Captain Grant's Inn.
The series' aim was to embark on an experiment that would change the way future investigations are conducted, to have a "profound impact on how we approach the paranormal." There were some great standout moments as part of the experiment, including Shane attempting to awaken his latent psychic abilities in a floatation tank, Nick unearthing a buried metal pentagram with the help of a thermal imaging camera, and quite a lot of poltergeist-like occurrences that will leave you scratching your head.
Photo: © Netflix
The thing left unclear about the 28 day cycle experiment at the start of the series is how they were going to attempt to prove the theory. The experiment ends on day 28, so we'll have no way of knowing if the barrier between the living and the dead breaks down on the 28th day, because there's no way to compare activity before day 28 with activity after the veil has been broken down.
This lack of direction was touched upon in one heated moment at Lumber Baron Inn when Shane, Ray and Amy were debating how they should continue their investigation. Ray questioned why were are doing the same thing every night and not varying their approach. He asked, "what are we going to do? We're going to keep doing the same s**t every night and then hope that we might get a breakthrough." He added, "if we're getting the same f**king s**t every night, something's got to change" - but surely this is perfect for the experiment, the same approach every night would mean that if activity escalates it's more likely to be because of the 28 day cycle rather than a change in the investigators' methods.
A better approach might have been to conduct the same measurable experiment each night to determine whether the results differ as the investigators approached the 28th day, and ideally beyond.
However, as the series went on it was clear to see a seeming increase in what the investigators felt was genuine paranormal activity as the 28th day approached. By night 15, Tony said "it's ramping up as you notice," he added this could mean more danger. Aaron explained, "Ed and Lorraine also warned that during this phase in the cycle, the investigators are at the greatest risk for possession."
At the end of the 28 days, Ray said "if we hadn't been here for the full 28 days, I don't believe we would have solved this mystery, this proves that an eight hour investigation, a day, two days, just isn't enough. You need the full 28 days to unlock the secrets of a haunting."
Aaron concluded, "we believe the theory of the 28 day cycle was proven in different ways at each location." In one location in particular, there was what Aaron described as "unprecedented paranormal activity and classic poltergeist behaviour," this sort of final battle, which included loud crashes, glass breaking and objects being thrown across the room, matches Ed and Lorraine's findings of a final showdown as part of the cycle.
Tony agreed with Aaron when he concluded, "I think that what we can take away here is that total immersion in a haunted location can real yield a diverse display of impressive results."
Aaron wisely added, "but of course, one experiment is not enough to prove a theory, if we're truly going to change paranormal investigations forever, we need to do this again, and there's no shortage of ghosts to connect with or haunted locations to explore. I can't wait to see what happens on the next 28 days."
It's true that you can't please everyone all of the time, and if I was given 28 days to investigate a haunted house, this isn't how I would spend my time, but if you're looking for some spooky Halloween entertainment, then this is perfect. It's like 'Big Brother' in a haunted house and because to some extent it serves as a social experiment as well as a paranormal one, it's one of the most honest and true to itself shows of its kind.
The complete series, all six episodes, of '28 Days Haunted' is available to watch now on Netflix.
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