Judge David Johnson lives in a constantly paranormal state—New Hampshire.
Our reviews of Paranormal State: Season Five (published September 10th, 2011), Paranormal State: Season Four (published October 3rd, 2010), Paranormal State: Season One (published May 8th, 2008), and Paranormal State: Season Two (published January 30th, 2009) are also available.
It's not your imagination.
A group of motivated college students have taken it upon themselves to engage in paranormal investigations and free their clients from whatever supernatural malfeasance is menacing them at the moment. Led by Ryan Buell, the "Paranormal Research Society" (PRS)—which sounds like something you'd read about in an Encyclopedia Brown book—ventures out to new locales each week for thirty-minute adventures in the occult.
This particular selection of episodes focuses on demonic investigations and typically involves outside help from their resident psychic/medium and a priest willing to throw down some exorcism juice. As the formula for each show dictates, these hardcore Latin shenanigans don't transpire until after the team has completed their client interviews, set up pointless night vision cameras and microphones, and walked around dank basements shouting at spirits to tip over a nightstand or something to make its presence known. After all that, the team breaks out the Special-Weapon-of-the-Week, be it the priest and his Holy Water, a special sensory-augmenting helmet of awesomeness, or my favorite: an exciting new technology that can read the spiritual turbulence in the air and translate it into a computer voice…which you'd think would be used constantly and provide extraordinary insight into the demon's point of view, but only makes an appearance once.
If you sense a smart-ass tone that's because some of the stuff here is just too hard to swallow. I'm not one to discount the possibility of malicious little Hellspawn running around scaring the @#$% out of people, so my doubts don't come from a derision of a belief in the supernatural. There are a few persuasive moments, specifically the allegedly possessed young girl who receives a Holy Water bath and some robust appeals to Michael the Archangel shouted in her direction.
But mainly, the most tense stuff comes from the team members claiming a presence has brushed up against them, the temperature in a given room has fallen too fast, or the go-to standard of measurement for demonic phenomena: a clattering right after someone screams and demands the demon to show himself. Why he/she/it opts to manifest the full force of the Dark One through a tennis ball bouncing on the floor is beyond me, but that appears to be the modus operandi for demons these days. Not so surprisingly, nothing ever appears on the film, despite the fact the PRS has these homes rigged more with more tech than a Circuit City.
Anyway, fans of this kind of programming will find plenty to enjoy here. Everyone aboard the team is feeling it, their reactions certainly appear authentic, and would pretty much be what I'd do if a demon was goosing me from behind in a musty attic.
A&E's DVD is the barest of bare-bones, sporting a full-frame transfer, 2.0 stereo, and no extras.
Not really feeling the tension here, kids. Go do some community service
exorcising haunted hay rides.
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