Normally, I write about fantasy horror settings. Ones that you just turn off and not worry about too much afterwards. It’s just fantasy right? But what about real life horror? The horror we hear of people living in supposedly haunted houses, dealing with demons and fighting for their souls. We’ve all heard stories of Amityville, the house that influenced Ronald DeFeo, Jr. to murder his entire family. Those same spirits then chased the Lutz family out only 28 days after moving in. We’re familiar with the case of the Perron family, made famous by the Warrens, attacked and under siege in their home by demonic forces from the past. And now we’re familiar with the case of demons in Gary, Indiana, a case even more famous thanks to Zak Bagan’s documentary Demon House.
Demon House starts out with a warning telling the viewer that demonologists believe that demons can attach themselves to you through other people, places and even electronic devices. I immediately have some skeptism on this, if it’s true or just being said for effect. The style the documentary was shot in is similar to Ghost Adventures, a program also hosted and directed by Zak Bagins, with dramatic reenactments and careful lighting. Zak narrates about his career as a paranormal investigator then goes into how he bought the demon house, sight unseen, in Gary, Indiana.
The house had been reported to have a demonic guardian, or over 200 demons, that tormented the family that lived there. They influenced the children to attack one another and, in full view of a child protective case worker, nurses and other hospital staff, one of the children crawled up the wall of a hospital room, growling and snarling.
Through a series of interviews and stories, Zak pieces together various incidents in the house and starts to discover that nearly everyone that has been in the house, lived in the house, or worked on the house has had some form of malady befall them. A CPS worker had touched oil that mysteriously started dripping from the middle of a set of blinds and had her hand turn white as if the blood rushed from her hand fleeing the oil, it was reported that she broke ribs and ankles and suffered third degree burns from a motorcycle accident after visiting the house. Zak Bagans brings in a house inspector to see if there were other factors that could cause the former attendants to hallucinate. He came down with cancer much later.
Like the rest of us, Zak has his trepidations on it. Is it really haunted? Did the previous occupants truly see demons possessing their family? Is it all about money? We listen to Zak talk and interview various people about the possibility that everything was faked, created for the possibility of a movie deal. Other people who had lived in the house start to come forward and relay to Zak and his crew about what it was like living in the house. A woman who had lived there with her family and older brother speaks about having dreams and visions of her brother dying while living in the back room of the basement. Her family brushed it all off until her brother was killed while he lived with them, in the backroom of the basement.
It’s hard to ignore the multiple reports from various professionals. Cops, social workers, nurses, all speak up and confirm of what they’ve felt, seen, and experienced in the house but Zak continues to believe that ulterior motives remain a big part in all that. It’s hard to ignore the fact that police officers in the town refuse to be anywhere near the house and then tell Zak, after responding to a breaking and entering call at the demon house, that he should tear the house down and salt the earth…but then poses the question of what kind of evil he’d release into the world. The family that previously lived in it years ago, the same family that had a brother that was murdered while living in the basement, nearly experiences another tragedy after visiting the house with Zak.
I enjoyed watching the documentary because so little at first was known about the house but I disliked that it was shot in a similar manner of a Ghost Adventures episode, complete with a small lock down done by Zak himself. Demon House doesn’t just explore the house but it brings in several factors and statements about what may cause all these tragedies including talking about the city that the house sits in: Gary, Indiana. A city where many live below the poverty line and experience so much violent crime. We are introduced to more tragedies and people falling ill all due to the house.
I’m skeptical about how much of the documentary is truth or simple fabrication of drama, simply told to make it more interesting. If it is true, it’s sad to think of how many innocent people were hurt or died as a result of the house and the demons in it, people within the city of Gary and further out. The final part of the documentary shows Zak boarding himself up into the house to investigate by himself, to see if he can catch the demons on video.
This is where I take a big grain of salt over it because I need to remind everyone that this house isn’t in the middle of nowhere. It’s in a neighborhood with neighbors on both sides, across the street and behind the house. Zak claims to hear a dim voice shouting while he stood at the back door, a woman’s voice sounding like she’s yelling “that’s my baby!” I think instead of this being supernatural, a woman was likely shouting outside the house and off to the distance. It’s night and noise travels.
I will admit that I got angry at the documentary because of the last several minutes of it, of Zak sitting in the bedroom on the bed and yelling at the demon. Of course, the growl/ groaning we hear from the hallway sounds terrifying and does send Zak scrambling to sit up on the bed and away from the doorway. That isn’t what angers me. What angers me is the fact that his camera goes out of focus just as a strange dark mist supposedly comes from the wall and walks past the door way. How are you suppose to put any faith in that? I know folks are going to say that it was out of Zak’s control and that he was too scared to fool with the camera but if you’re a professional with this stuff you’d grab the camera and make sure you get it on video. That’s just my opinion.
Regardless of how I feel about it, Demon House does grip you. It makes you sympathize with these poor families, and all those affected by this house and whatever malicious entity lived in it. In the end, Zak ended up demolishing the house so no one else would get hurt by the entities inside it. If you’re a fan of Ghost Adventures and want a good documentary to curl up with, I suggest this one, but I do suggest going in with one-part skeptism.
I honestly give this house three out of five paper ghosts tied to a string going boo for effort and the bit of surprise I felt while watching.