A&E // 2009 // 308 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 3rd, 2010
It's not your imagination.
Are you ready for more puke-green night vision and dudes pouring over hours of video and audio tape; geeking out in a big way if they hear a strange sound or see a potted plant shift an indiscernible millimeter? Lucky for you, the supernatural snoops of A&E's Paranormal State are ready to ladle on their close encounters in their fourth go-around of creepy investigations and over-eager ghost-busting.
Here's the lowdown: There's this guy named Ryan Buell who had a terrifying experience with the paranormal when he was a child. What precisely happened is a mystery and he refuses to let his team members know what freaked him out so much. Whatever it was propelled him into a career as an investigator and pretty much stripped his sense of humor. While a student at Penn State, he teamed up with some like-minded ghost trackers and together they formed the Paranormal Research Society (PRS). Now, they head out to visit clients besieged by things-that-go-bump-in-the-night and Paranormal State tracks their exploits.
Season Four brings 12 episodes, which play out like this...Ryan meets the desperate clients, then consults with his team. Later, they head to the house and do a walk-through. That night, they set up a bunch of recording equipment in the most diabolical hot spots. Occasionally, a noise pops up or something moves and everyone goes nuts. Then, after the evidence is analyzed and a prescription to eradicate the poltergeist is used, a psychic is brought in or an exorcism is performed to bust the ghosts. And to wrap up the show, Ryan provides a recap and a post-script.
You know, if this kind of show is your thing, then full speed ahead. Grab this set and ensconce yourself in the goings-on of a group of young adults who get super-excited over the sound of a floorboard creaking. I just don't know if I can ever latch onto something like this. While I don't doubt their earnestness, it's tough to get around the fact that the Paranormal Research Society is sort of dorky. Like they were constantly harangued at Penn State because of their goofy logo and funny instruments that supposedly read ghost energy. Then again, it's obvious they're helping folks out, despite the veracity of their claims or diagnoses, so I can't be too dismissive, right? On second thought, one of their cases ended with a family planting a tree to assuage the concerns of the forest spirits for using lumber to build their log cabin...so, yeah, this stuff can be dumb at times.
It doesn't help that these guys are so self-serious. Ryan Buell is particularly humorless, exhibited in awkward fashion when he scolds his team for laughing in a haunted prison. Because of the levity, he opts to not tell them (and us, natch) the specifics of his childhood paranormal encounter. Fine. Be like that.
A&E spits out a lame two-disc set, complete with annoying "fake" widescreen (full frame, really), poor image quality, an adequate stereo mix, and bonus footage as extras.
I'm uninterested, but I recognize there's a market for this. So, go and do
some community service exorcising demons from the haunted YMCAs of the world.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 308 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Footage