SYFY FINALLY KICKS OFF A NEW SEASON OF ONE OF TV’S SCARIEST SHOWS. DON’T WATCH ALONE…
EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS REVIEW OF “PARANORMAL WITNESS” FIRST APPEARED IN JUNE, 2013. SINCE THEN, IT HAS BECOME ONE OF OUR ALL-TIME MOST POPULAR POSTS. WHAT FOLLOWS IS A FULLY UPDATED VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL, WRITTEN AND REFRESHED TO COINCIDE WITH THE SEASON FOUR PREMIERE ON AUGUST 26, 2015.
AIRS WEDNESDAYS AT 10PM E/P ON SYFY
There are plenty of shows that deal with ghosts, beasties from beyond and paranormal phenomena. Unfortunately, most are unscripted train wrecks, snoozy dramas like THE WHISPERS or dreadful re-makes of highly regarded foreign productions (A&E’s recently cancelled THE RETURNED, for example). It’s a format that’s often sullied by cheap thrills, silly re-creations and endless night-vision camera sequences. Though the pickings are slim, every now and then you can find a really good bat flitting about the belfry.
One exceptional standout is PARANORMAL WITNESS a genuinely scary and expertly produced SyFy original. It’s the single best series in the unscripted wing of the genre since DESTINATION TRUTH. Even better, no Zak Bagans or Amy Allen anywhere in sight!
PARANORMAL WITNESS kicks off its fourth season tonight and airs Wednesdays at 10PM E/P on SyFy. Up first is the story of Ron and Doretta Johnson. After the couple purchases an abandoned Indiana hotel, they unwittingly become involved in a live ghost story of madness, murder and a maniacal “Dark Man.” Though not the scariest of installments, it is a tragic tale and the kind of haunting that the series does an especially effective job of bringing to life. Note to those shopping for cut-rate real estate: if the price seems too good to be true, check out what’s been going on in the bathroom before you sign on the dotted line.
The producers of PARANORMAL WITNESS clearly enjoy scaring the crap out of their audience. This is genuinely chilling stuff and the stories chosen are often dark, disturbing affairs. They don’t score a homer every time, but they always swing for the fences. As a rule of thumb, the only disappointments are UFO-centric installments and the handful of episodes with multiple stories told in the same hour. Even those few weak spots are more adult and accomplished than shows like GHOST HUNTERS and GHOST ADVENTURES.
What sets PARANORMAL WITNESS apart is the quality of the production. Most episodes deal with a single haunting, re-told through a combination of interviews with the actual people involved and highly cinematic re-creations. Each episode feels like a mini-movie. The special effects are top notch and the actors not only resemble their real-life counterparts, they can actually act. It's one of the few shows I always watch with the lights on.
As good as the series is, SyFy does a terrible job of promoting it. The show didn’t even appear on the network Twitter feed until earlier this evening. Only after I called them out on the dedicated PARANORMAL WITNESS feed, did they bother to re-tweet a plug for tonight’s season premier. Apparently, SyFy is too busy shoving FACE OFF down our throats and pushing crap like DOMINION. I’d love to include clips of upcoming episodes or the season four promo spots, but the network isn’t offering any embeddable video. Seriously, who turns down free promotion these days? SyFy is also very stingy with streaming options. You can buy episodes and full seasons on Amazon Instant video, but don’t look for PARANORMAL WITNESS on Netflix or Hulu because you won’t find it on either service.
A total of thirteen new episodes will be rolling out in the coming weeks. Included in the mix: a battle royale between a politician and a demon known as Molech, nasty Native American spirits, the real-life story that inspired the 2011 film THE CONJURING and the Suzy Doll. Heard of ANNABELLE? Well, word has it that this porcelain faced creep makes her look like a sweetie pie. All that’s missing is a killer clown…and for that, I’m thankful.