Demon House (2018)
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Critic Reviews for Demon House
While this particular "paranormal investigation" may terrify the more credulous among Bagans' fan base, skeptics are likely to feel bored and confused.
Fashioned from a scorching creative eagerness that seems held back unnecessarily by a fear of visual or thematic excess.
Demon House is patent balderdash; it's paranormal snake-oil salesmanship that degrades the real life unfortunates involved in the case.
Audience Reviews for Demon House
So, as most of you should know by now, I am not a superstitious man. I don't believe in the existence of ghosts, demons, fairies and anything else you wanna throw out there. I will admit that there are things in this world that science (or anyone else) cannot explain. It would be arrogant for anyone to refuse to accept this. That's one of the things that makes earth so compelling, all its little mysteries. But I'm not one of those types of people who, if science can't explain it, it must be of a paranormal origin. Either that, or in the case of people who are religious, it must be a construct of god. Just because science can't explain a specific problem of, say, 'demonic possession' does not mean that it is actually a real-life possession. The brain is a really powerful organ and we don't fully understand how brains work, even to this day. So how about we all just keep an open mind and stop jumping to preposterous conclusions just because of the fact that science can't explain whatever you want it to explain. I suppose this brings us to this movie and, before I do so, I need to talk about Zak Bagans. Zak Bagans hosts this Ghost Adventures show on the Travel Channel and let's just say that I'm not a big fan of the guy. Firstly is the fact that he looks like a complete and utter douchebag. And, for all I know, he is a douchebag. If the word dudebro was in the dictionary, the picture next to the word would be Zak's. He just looks like one of these frat boys that says bro more than anyone in earth has ever blinked their entire lives, watches a lot of UFC and wears Affliction shirts. Not to mention his whole braggadocious attitude to ghost hunting. He's 'do you even lift bro'-ing the ghosts in his shows. Calling them bitches and, again, generally just acting like a complete fucking douchebag. Zak also refers to himself, as he narrates the movie, as one of the leading experts in demonology. According to who??? So, you may ask yourself why I decide to watch this movie if I'm, clearly, not a fan. Well, first things first, I had ordered a pizza and it arrived and I just chose the first movie I saw on Amazon that drew my attention. I just didn't want to eat cold pizza. And I suppose I could have heated it up in the microwave or the oven, but it tastes better if you just eat it right after it arrives. Secondly, we don't get many horror documentaries, so I was compelled for that very reason. I just wanted to see how it would play out. That's why I watched it. Honestly, I went in with an open mind. I know Zak Bagans directed this movie and he is, essentially, its main character. But I came in with an open mind, hopeful that we would get a good horror documentary out of this. This is why it pains me to say that, in fact, we did not get a horror documentary here. Look, here's the thing, your enjoyment of this movie is solely dependent on the fact of how much of Zak's fakery you're able to tolerate or buy into. Fans of Ghost Adventures will eat this shit up. Those of us who are skeptics will not. I'll be totally honest, there's compelling story to be told here and Zak presents that story in a compelling way. I don't know if it's paced well, but it has a strong atmospheric score to set the mood, it has some creepy visuals with the 12-foot-tall goat man thing. So, again, if you're susceptible to this, then you will love this movie. As I mentioned that Zak presents the story in a compelling way that, at the very least, holds your attention throughout its running time. But the fact that it is compelling does not make it any less fake. The fact of the matter is that, in my opinion, the Ammons haunting case, which takes place in the house that Zak bought (the titular Demon House), was a hoax. Either that or it was a case of mass hysteria that the Ammons family decided to exploit to, maybe, get a payday out of it due to all the media attention and movie deals expected to come in. In a way, I can't blame the Ammons family, considering that they live in a town where a third of its population lives below the poverty line. The house itself is, clearly, not one that someone in the middle class would live in. I'm certain that there were some incidents that took place that may have been associated to something else entirely and, most importantly, earthly. But the family chose to exploit that for their own gain. And, again, I can't say that I blame them. Yet, once again, I don't believe that what took place in the house is an actual haunting. Zak himself claims that, if this is a hoax, he wants to find out. But, in my opinion, he doesn't really try that hard to attempt to expose this as a hoax. He knows that the house being haunted would lead to a considerably far more interesting movie than if, at the end, it was all exposed to be a fabrication. Zak, for all I can say about him, is clearly not a dumb guy and he knew that, for his movie to gain any real traction, it would have to work under the assumption that everything that's happening here is 'real'. As far as what's fake, in my opinion, it all starts once Zak and his crew start getting affected by spending too much time in the house. Zak pushes one of his cameramen around and the guy has to calm him down. There are several times where he has to keep himself from lunging at someone because the house is having such a 'negative' effect on him. And, to me, the biggest and most fake part of the movie is when one of his cameramen loses his shit after an incident where, it seems, like some sort of shadowy figure goes into him. They go back to their hotel and this guy, Adam (I think), starts losing his shit. He's in the corridor yelling at the demon, calling it a bitch. Oh, of course, prior to all of this, Adam vomited blood in Zak's bathroom, none of which we actually see. Or even the aftermath, if the vomiting itself was spontaneous. How convenient, right? Anyway, there comes a moment where they get Adam to calm down and he asks for them to shut the camera off, because of course he did, and, secretly, one of the other cameramen puts the camera underneath a table and records the conversation of what Adam says the demon wants. This is a found footage trope and it is so painfully fake that it will honestly shock me to find out if any real human being actually believed all of this. I don't wanna say that it's poorly acted, because they do a good job at pretending that it's real, but it's so clearly and obviously fabricated. There's not a single ounce of me that once believed that what happened to Adam was real. Not a single one. I honestly think that it's a little bit insulting that they're asking us to believe that all of this is real, honestly. I know Zak Bagans needs to make the film this way, since that is what people want from him. But there's clearly no objectivity here. He calls himself an 'investigator' several times, but the investigating he does amounts to jack shit. Because, once again, he's working under the assumption that this is all real. He's working under this assumption because he NEEDS to, more than anything else. The climactic act, when Zak barricades himself in the house is, probably, the most horror movie aspect of the film. Everything leading up to that is, quite frankly, a little boring. It's just investigating the history of the house, interviewing people that had extensive 'exposure' to the house. And it's just not that fun. They play spooky music and show strange images as smoke and mirrors to make up for the fact that there's no real horror to be gleaned from this house. Which is why, to me, Zak barricaded himself in the house. Nothing really happens, he hears a woman's voice, an animal-like groan and a figure walks in front the room Zak is staying in. But, of course, conveniently enough, the camera itself goes out of focus and you can just see a figure walking across the room, but you can't make out any identifiable features. Holy fuck, it's like they're not even trying to pretend or disguise the fact that this is all fake. There's other shit, like earlier on in the movie, one child protective services worker touches the blinds, which are leaking with oil, and, apparently, her hand changed colors. They show a photo of what is supposed to be a whiter than normal hand, but I honestly couldn't even make out anything. It just looks like a regular white hand. The palm of my hand, which is what they showed in this photo, is whiter than the photo they actually showed. And this was shown as evidenced of something supernatural occurring. Who is this actually fooling? Later, at another point, he mentions the aftermath of several people who spent time in the house. He says that the child protective worker suffered a broken hand, broken ribs, got burnt by a motorcycle, etc, etc, etc. How the fuck do I know that any of this is legit? He could have just made this fact up to fit his narrative. There's no way to verify any of this information, we're just supposed to take Bagans at his word. And, after this, this house inspector, Zak tells us, got cancer after spending time at the house. Because that's where we are. I'm not saying this inspector doesn't have cancer, but for Zak to imply that it was a result of spending time at the house is a little scummy. He never says that it's the house doing this, but they really heavily imply it. Same with the CPS worker. Everything that happened to her happened after the time spent at the house. It's all such bullshit, because, again, there's no way for me to verify this information, I just have to believe Zak, because Zak would never lie to people for his own financial gain, right??? Honestly, I was thinking of giving this 2.5 stars. I don't know what the fuck is wrong with me. The movie is certainly watchable, much like his Ghost Adventures show, but there's no a shred of honesty in any of the 90+ minutes this movie runs. There's no objectivity, everything seems purposely designed to fit the narrative Zak wants to put forward, there's a bunch of fakery in the third act and, in all, it just fails at being an entertaining horror documentary. Because if, at the very least, you're gonna spend this entire time building up a fake narrative, at least have that fake narrative be entertaining. This is just a boring movie. It would have been boring even if I had thought that what I was seeing was real. If you're a fan of Zak's show, you'll love this. Those of who you are skeptics and use common logic should just stay way. This movie will just anger you.
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