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Why 28 Days Haunted, Netflix’s paranormal reality show, is a scream

Why 28 Days Haunted, Netflix’s paranormal reality show, is a scream
A ghost waving hello, not during 28 Days Haunted, a show that Netflix is airing but did not provide any press photos for, probably because real ghosts won't sign waivers. (Photo by Tandem X Visuals/Unsplash)

To try to figure out whether Netflix’s 28 Days Haunted was a paranormal reality TV show or just a badly scripted parody of a fake paranormal reality show—not that there’s any distance between those things—I started watching the first episode.

I noticed it because I was looking to see if The Mole is on Netflix’s top-10 list today; it’s not, alas, while this show is.

In the opening moments, 28 Days Haunted’s narrator tells us that three teams of investigators will hang out in “haunted locations” (there is no question they are haunted, of course), all of which have “dark histories” and “increasingly aggressive hauntings.”

The narrator says that, “if the investigators can find a way to persevere, and withstand the full 28 days…”

This is where I expect him to say something like, They’ll win $100,000. Okay, wait, never mind, this is Netflix. They’ll win $10,000.

But it turns out that spending the full 28 days will result in something else:

“…it is believed the barrier between the living and the dead will become virtually non-existent, and the secrets of the location will come flooding out.”

That’s all? I hope Netflix has good insurance.

Since ghosts are not currently swirling around my neighborhood, I am certain all three teams have failed, or perhaps they deployed the ultimate protection—hedging words (“it is believed,” “virtually”).

The thought of a reality TV show intentionally opening up not one but three portals to the afterlife made me laugh out loud, so I pulled out my laptop and starting taking diligent notes.

On the one hand, this is the kind of show where creaks and flickering lights become evidence of pissed-off ghosts, rather than, you know, flickering lights and creaks. Noises become coherent words, in the same way that the words my cat speaks can only be understood by me, a trained professional in the art of bullshit.

The, uh, investigators, and I don’t like to use that word because I don’t want real investigators to get mad at me, use “high-tech equipment,” according to the narrator.

That means they use equipment that just doesn’t work, or picks up normal signals like from wiring and cell phone towers, and combine that with methods that are, of course, total pseudoscience nonsense.

Somehow, Jenny McCarthy is not involved in this show, and of course mentioning her means I should mention that you can get your free bivalent booster shot now.

Back to actually funny business: Whereas Travel Channel paranormal shows try to create some suspense out of absolutely nothing happening, Netflix seems to be going for raw comedy here. (Tangent: How is that Travel Channel still hasn’t changed its name to something like Ghost Central?)

In the preview of 28 Days Haunted, one “investigator” literally rips off his shirt to go, uh, tackle a ghost or something. Alas, that does not happen in the first episode, so I do not know what happens, because as much as I love comedy, I can only take so much laughing in one year.

To give all of this generic content some name recognition, this is connected to Ed and Lorraine Warren, mostly because Lorraine Warren’s son-in-law, Tony Spera, watches from a room with monitors along with “paranormal journalist” Aaron Sagers.

Tony tells us “the ghosts are figuring out the investigators,” and perhaps trying to figure out how they can swing some of this sweet, sweet Netflix money, because Hades knows Travel Channel isn’t giving them stipends for having to put up with clowns knocking around their spaces.

On the first night, Aaron tells us, “I’ve seen investigations where little to no activity takes place, or ones where investigators can’t even survive the entire night.”

While I was rooting for the latter, because I’ve never seen a ghost bloodbath before, that didn’t happen. But a lot of funny stuff did, so join me as I highlight the best of it. If you choose to watch this yourself, may I recommend subtitles for additional comedy, such as “[garbled static]”?

Lumber Baron Inn in Denver

The Hollywood Tower hotel at Walt Disney World, which I can confirm is haunted because I've checked in and then ghosts dropped the elevator and it was quite scary
The Hollywood Tower hotel at Walt Disney World, which I can confirm is haunted because I’ve checked in and then ghosts dropped the elevator and it was quite scary. (Photo by Brian McGowan/Unsplash)

Before the three investigators at the Lumber Baron Inn in Denver even go inside, Amy—who’s identified on-screen as “Amy Sensitive,” which I thought was her name at first—says, “There’s like a really heavy feeling, because it’s pulling my stomach, which usually indicates there’s a type of male that’s here.”

Funny, when I feel a male presence, it usually pulls somewhere else.

Amy also says,

With my abilities as a sensitive, I am much more prone to spiritual attacks. Being here for, you know, such a long period of time and having, you know, potentially dark forces trying to overtake me, I mean, that can be really dangerous.

I didn’t think I’d find myself agreeing with someone on this show, but Amy is totally right, because I live in Florida, where the dark force of Ron DeSantis has overtaken us.

Shane tells us that “anything that cannot be readily explained with science, that’s where I come in,” which may be the most truthful thing spoken in the entire series.

Ray, who works with Shane, tell us, “Shane’s a natural-born leader, and he’s a great wingman to have in any haunted location.” I guess in case a ghost wants to pull on you?

The narrator tells us that “the ghosts of several women, distressed or sometimes disfigured, are seen roaming the hallways of the second floor.”

I immediately went to look at the Lumber Baron Inn website to see if those rooms come with disfigured ghosts, or if that’s an add-on.

The room where Amy thinks someone died, because she sees “a vision of a woman with blood dripping down her face,” is called the Valentine Suite, starts at $239 a night, and only mentions its “Updated and modern shower.” I’d bet they can get at least $339 a night if they mentioned the disfigured ghosts in the hallway, too.

During night one, leaving science behind, Shane goes into a bedroom, where the narrator says he’ll be “using sensory deprivation equipment to mimic psychic abilities.” He uses “the Estes method,” sitting on a bed, listening to radio frequencies while wearing a blindfold.

He suddenly says, “I’m dead. Help. Help me. I killed them,” which I promise is funny. Just go back and read it in the same flat tone of voice your GPS uses to say: “You have arrived at your destination.”

In an interview, Shane says, “Now, I’m willing to battle a dark entity, but doing it without knowing how powerful it is, or exactly what it is would just be foolish at this point.”

Yes, I always make sure to look up my dark entities in my Big Book of Baddies before engaging in battle with them. I also put on my dark entity shield, which I used to call my blankie.

They leave that room and go back to the Valentine suite, where Amy tries to contact the dead woman. Shane asks her, “Who sees?” and the ghost replies, “Fuck you.” LOL I love this ghost.

Madison Dry Goods Country Store and Museum in North Carolina

A ghost in coffee foam, not a ghost on Netflix's 28 Days Haunted
Look! A ghost! I see one! Finally! Toa Heftiba/Unsplash)

Only two investigators go to the Dry Goods Country Store, which is weird because they welcome tour busses, so clearly they have a lot of space. One of them introduces himself like this:

“My name is Jereme Leonard, and by day I’m a professional firefighter. By night, I am a demonologist.”

His line reading is so perfect I bought it.

The narrator tells us that “Brandy and Jereme are starting to plan for their first night investigation,” and then we see the very real screen of a computer, on which there is an export dialog box that says, “Save Video to the Computer,” as these screens do. The box I’m currently typing in says Type Words to the Computer.

Anyway, Jereme is exporting a video, but has MP3 selected (Jereme!), and he is typing into the “Title” box a name for the file, for which he chooses—and I swear I am not making this up—”VIDEO”. He does start typing “LO,” which might mean he was going for “VIDEO LOG” or perhaps “VIDEO LOL LOL LOL LOL”

For the record, the computer will be saving that to C:\Users\ghost\Videos\Movie Library\ HOLY SHIT IT’S THE GHOST’S COMPUTER!!!

After all of that computing, Jeremy says, as one does, “So, tonight, Brandy, I’m going to put you in a coffin”—RUN BRANDY RUN!

Instead she lays in a coffin while he pretends she’s dead, and Jereme says, “As we gather here today to celebrate the life of Brandy…” Unfortunately no one has gathered, unless you count the ghosts, and I don’t because I still have not seen a single fucking ghost.

“There’s kids by me right now,” she says from the coffin. “Something just touched the top of my head, Jeremy.” That’s where the episode ends, and while Netflix is usually great at cliffhangers that make me want to watch the next episode, that did not.

But because the episode jumps around, we have one more place to visit.

Captain Grant’s Inn in Connecticut

The third location is Captain Grant’s Inn, which was also featured on the Travel Channel’s Portals to Hell with Jack Osbourne, even though 28 Days Haunted has promised us that these are rarely-explored haunted places, and now I want a refund.

“This is a strange wallpaper,” one of the three investigators there says, and another replies, “I don’t like this hallway.”

I assumed they were going to start renovating, but that’s a different knock-off cable show.

They go into the attic, where one named Nick says, “Yeah, that’s a hot attic,” as if there are other kinds of unfinished attics.

Nick also says, “There’s definitely spirits that are dying for help here,” which was the biggest news to me, that spirits can die. I did know I was dying laughing at all of this nonsense, so I thank Netflix and 28 Days Haunted for that.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion

I value our community at reality blurred, which connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

Comment rules: My goal is for us to be able to share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space. That’s why I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to them.

Happy discussing!

Beth

Sunday 30th of October 2022

Loads of people also made fun of science for a long time during the Middle Ages. Copernicus feared publishing his theory about the revolutions of the earth and that there was no one center in the universe. In fact, many horrible things were said and done to scientists during the 1000 year Middle Ages. Many scientists feared publishing their works for fear of being subject to ridicule, torture/death and social ostracization.

Whether or not you yourself have seen a ghost or not is irrelevant. That’s like saying cancer doesn’t exist because you’ve never personally had it. People from every era since the dawn of consciousness have reported seeing ghosts. It’s pretty unscientific to say they were all just liars or schizophrenic. It’s worth studying and finding ways to measure it since it always has been and continues to be something many people experience. You mentioned “pseudoscience” in your article and then also made it out like ghosts aren’t real without YOU having seen one. That is exactly what pseudoscience is. It relies on anecdotal evidence to determine truth.

How did you discount the most evidence I’ve ever seen caught on camera? All the doors opening and shit breaking and pounding around and the very real fear in the investigators? Not to mention secrets of each location were revealed. It didn’t fail in what the series was for and that was to test a theory.

I watched the whole series and appreciated what they were trying to do - make paranormal measurable. While you resorted to petty insults for a chance in the spotlight you missed that fact. The scientific process is always messy when a subject is in its infancy stages of measurability. Hypotheses that seem promising can become extremely frustrating when they can’t be proven and the drawing board has to be revisited again and again as data from failure accumulates until finally a breakthrough that can lead to a theory. There are more failures in the testing of a hypothesis than there are successes. The point is to narrow it down through data and collection of evidence. Just remember that the next time you want to throw insults at researchers and their projects.

Shelley

Thursday 27th of October 2022

This review summed up everything about the first episode! As I was watching I couldn’t figure out if these people were for real. The sincerity of the Demonologist was so hilarious to me I was laughing out loud. Thank you for confirming this and the dark force of DeSantis 😆 Keep these reviews coming!!

Pink Hair Nana

Thursday 27th of October 2022

Love your work! I especially liked your comment about DeSantis. I also live in Florida and I feel your pain. I look forward to reading more from you.

Ryan

Wednesday 26th of October 2022

I live in Florida as well. And I love the fact that my constitutional rights are preserved by my governor Ron. I see the hate in your soul. Your comparison is by far childish. I don’t know what’s more comedic.. this article or the the show.

Andy Dehnart

Thursday 27th of October 2022

What constitutional rights did he protect? And do you mean the Florida constitution, or the U.S. Constitution?

Marcie Mathis

Wednesday 26th of October 2022

I laughed so hard I peed myself, especially at Jereme. I have some good screenshots of a small conversation I had with him on fb before he blocked me. It made me laugh more than ever! I’d be happy to share 😂😂😂