Demon House (NR)

Documentary 111 min. March 16, 2018
By Simon Abrams
You can tell just how full of it the makers of the exploitative documentary Demon House are by the way they constantly present reality-show theatrics as evidence of a real-life haunting. Director Zak Bagans, the host of generic poltergeist-hunting reality show Ghost Adventures, announces toward the start that he's wary of Gary, Indiana, resident Latoya Ammons and her family's claims of demonic possession. But then, rather than hiring skeptics and scientists to examine what might really have happened when Latoya's three children purportedly spoke in evil-sounding growly voices right before one of them supposedly walked backward up a wall, Bagans tries to convince viewers something supernatural is afoot. There’s Paranormal Activity–style nanny-cam footage of the family's then-abandoned house, and corny, sub–Unsolved Mysteries–quality dramatic re-enactments.

These lame shock tactics make more sense after Bagans explains that almost all of the Ammons family members refused to talk to him because, as he pissily speculates, they were already selling their story to the makers of a bigger-budgeted fictional horror film. But Bagans reveals a lot about his interest in the Ammons house by the way that he emphasizes the testimony of superstitious police Capt. Charles Austin and careerist huckster — I mean “parapsychologist” — Barry Taff. Surely, these guys are more convincing than any serious consideration of complicating factors like Gary's high poverty and crime rates or psychologist Stacy Wright's actual evaluation of the youngest Ammons child's mental health. That, by the way, somehow never gets mentioned in the movie: "an unfortunate and sad case of a child who has been induced into a delusional system perpetuated by his mother and potentially reinforced [by other family members]."
Zak Bagans Zak Bagans, Jay Wasley, Billy Tolley Zak Bagans Freestyle Digital Media

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