WARNING: This article contains spoilers throughout.
The first five episodes of Hellier left viewers scratching their heads and eager for more when the documentary series came to an intriguing end earlier this year. This week, the team brought us season two as the story continues.
Season two of the Planet Weird series premiered exclusively on Amazon Prime on November 29th and picked up the story 14 months after the events of the first season, which was a finalist in the Best Paranormal Documentary Film in this year's Paranormal Entertainment Awards
The first season followed husband-and-wife paranormal investigators Greg and Dana Newkirk as they teamed up with filmmaker Karl Pfeiffer as they tried to get to the bottom of the possible existence of strange unidentified goblin-like creatures in Kentucky.
Towards the end of the season the team start to realise that Hellier was just a symptom, which teased that in season two viewers were about to learn of the cause in ten new episodes.
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The first episode of the new season is a slow start, it mostly consists of scene setting, re-caps and back story, the story progresses very little. It even delves back into the original string of mysterious emails from a man calling himself David Christie, who made the original claim that he and is family were being tormented by strange goblin creatures in Hellier, Kentucky. They were also emailed by another unknown contact who used the name Terry Wriste.
At the end of season one, it appeared that their investigation at Hellier was nothing more than a wild goose chase, and it became clear that David never existed and the emails were merely a prank. You'd think that would signal an end to the investigation, but throughout their journey they experienced so many examples of synchronicity that told them that they were on the right track.
Because of this they spent much of the start of the second season talking about who Terry Wriste might really be. This leads them into another wild goose chase, which again leads them nowhere, while they remain convinced that the clues they are collecting are important and leading them closer to their goal - but by this point I've lost track of what their goal even is.
If Terry or even David are real people, then they'll be fully aware of this documentary, so if they wanted to be contacted, they would reach out to the filmmakers themselves. Even if Greg, Dana and Karl managed to track one of them down, they wouldn't want to talk, if they did they would have already.
I saw a comment on Twitter which said "the more Hellier 2 I watch, the more confused I get". This is because the team's investigation is fuelled by confirmation bias in ordinary coincidences, and any fact or titbit of information they come across becomes apart of their convoluted journey no matter where it takes them.
This means that what started as goblins in Kentucky ends up being an investigation linked to reported contact with with the supernatural entities like Indrid Cold, extraterrestrial visitations, and even delves into the folklore of the Mothman - a creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia in the mid-1960s.
How are all these things connected? Well, they're not, but the investigation eventually leads them to a very specific set of GPS coordinates, the alleged opening of a cave system. After trekking into the forest, as always, the lead proves to be a dead end.
Moments later something happens which confirms the filmmakers' tendency to assume every little detail is related to them and their case. When a helicopter flies over the woodlands it's suggested that this is "them" and that they "know" that the paranormal
investigator turned urban explorer is there.
Later in the season they think that a tree that has fallen on a remote rural lane had fallen for them - another example of the same type of confirmation bias.
The documentary's official write up states, "season two of Hellier follows every thread to get to the heart of the phenomena behind the elusive David Christie and the cryptic Terry Wriste" - this couldn't be further from the truth. They mean EVERY thread.
At one point Greg asks a witness "do you think Terry would be pleased that we're trying so hard to find him?" I think Terry will be sitting at home laughing at Greg and the rest of the team for continuing to chase the ghosts he'd created in his prank emails.
It's very hard to review Hellier 2, because nothing happened. Nothing. The ten episodes consist of nothing more than dead ends and the over analysis of minor details that they desperately tie into their case.
Their style of investigation is similar to police showing up to a murder scene and noticing a painting of a cat on the victim's wall and concluding that the murder must be connected to cats.
For example, in one segment the team discuss how a series of clues they've come across relate to the town of Point Pleasant. The phrases seemed to link to local landmarks. For example, they concluded that "All House Of God" pointed towards a church, the word "letter" meant the old post office, and "The Wheel" and "Is Of The Law" also related to nearby buildings.
Four strong ties to the case? Well, not really. I applied the same logic to my local area and a long a 600 meter stretch of the main road I found all four clues fitted. I too could pinpoint a church, a post office (and a sorting office), the Cat & Wheel pub, and an old police station.
The Hellier team were also surprised to find the name "Parson", which also relates to their case, prominently displayed in the same area of Point Pleasant. Well, guess what... within my 600 meter stretch of my local town, there's even a Parson's Bakery.
Perhaps I was lucky... but then again, perhaps they were too. In fact, I don't even think I was that lucky because later in the season another contact even manages to apply the same clues to another US town proving how easy it is.
What the filmmakers call "synchronicity", I would call coincidence. Admittedly it's hard to believe that some of these occurrences are just coincidences, but you have to remember that these people have been out and about actively looking for these coincidences for months and months on end.
I have to admit, that despite the fact that nothing happens of any significance, no progress is made, and the investigation is futile, the show is actually very watchable. Throughout I was secretly hopeful that at any moment all these loose ends and flailing strands of information would come together into a spectacular revelation, but my optimism was misplaced.
The show's watchability might be down to its pace and production values. You can't knock Hellier technically. It's easily one of the best produced, most stylised and cinematic documentaries I've seen. The videography, sound and pace of the episodes is near perfect - it's just that nothing happens.
Even if this documentary were made 'for entertainment purposes only' it failed.
Season two is available to watch now on Amazon Prime
, and will be available to watch for free from December 13th on YouTube, Vimeo and hellier.tv.