The highly contested demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren insisted that it takes “barely 28 days” to break the veil “of the spirit world”. The affirmation was born, of course, from his long and vast experience in similar situations. But, as if that were not enough, they insisted on the possibility that phenomena of an inexplicable nature obey a verifiable internal order. All this strange idea sustains the docuseries 28 paranormal days by Joe Berlinger for Netflix.
What could be a journey through the strange, the singular and the fearsome, ends up being a great joke of involuntary black humor. Berlinger reconstructs step by step supposed experiences on the edge of the perception of the real and tries to find a consistent explanation for them.
The media? The technology and a series of supposed measurable data, which become a kind of uneven combination between the visual chronicle and a morbid spectacle. In addition, as if it were an artificial addition, it is the son-in-law of the iconic supernatural phenomena researcher couple who accompanies the experience.
What is the supernatural? The question is repeated more often than is appropriate in 28 paranormal days. Eight participants in the process will try to answer it, but from “day 1”, which indicates the first chapter, it is obvious that they will not succeed. This attempt to reality show immediately decays into a sea of increasingly tedious inconsistencies.
Especially since everything it encompasses — from the concept of the unknown to fear turned into an object of study — is of considerable ambition. But 28 paranormal days, with six short episodes, barely scratches the surface of the idea. Much less, he manages to analyze it beyond a cheap, poorly constructed and, most of the time, almost self-parody show.
28 paranormal days
Like a shoddy version of investigator Grant Wilson’s Ghostbusters series, 28 Paranormal Days attempts to decipher the world of the unseen. He does it with an apparent naturist staging, in which he mixes the search for clues with a certain gloomy scenery. However, his attempts are so obvious as to be a messy collection of commonalities with other productions. The darkness of closed windows or destroyed places with amplified sounds. The constant insistence of the participants “to perceive that something is happening” and even the usual tricks of recording the darkness with sensitive spectrum cameras. All the clichés of curiosity about the paranormal are included in the series. Which makes it inevitable to wonder if Belinger is questioning credulity and the collective capacity for fear before anything else.
Between fear and humor 28 paranormal days
Belinger, responsible for various documentaries, including the popular — and superficial — installments of conversations with assassins, has experience in fictionalizing reality. In fact, several of his best tricks — like the subjective camera and the dramatized scenes — try to bring some order to 28 paranormal days.
But despite its intentions, the series does not go beyond exploring the possibility that the terrifying can be an experience. Halfway between what seems like cruel humor about human credulity and something more elaborate about what scares, 28 paranormal days falls for his clumsiness.
Belinger, who wants to show that some places can contain the evil, the strange and the inexplicable, brings the experience to the field of scientific hypothesis. Which means that you have to use little tricks of effects to achieve an atmosphere that is, to say the least, uncomfortable.
All the clichés of the spirit world
Like a shoddy version of the series Ghost Bustersby researcher Grant Wilson, 28 paranormal days try to decipher the world of the invisible. She does it with an apparent naturist staging, in which she mixes the search for clues with a certain gloomy scenery. However, his attempts are so obvious as to be a messy collection of commonalities with other productions that handle similar topics.
The darkness of closed windows or destroyed places with amplified sounds. The constant insistence of the participants “to perceive that something is happening” and even the usual tricks of recording the darkness with sensitive spectrum cameras. All the clichés of curiosity about the paranormal are included in 28 paranormal days. Which makes it inevitable to wonder if Belinger, in reality, does not question credulity and the collective capacity for fear before something else.
The mere suggestion of a social experiment is much more interesting than the series itself. Perhaps, for this reason, the journey through dusty rooms, narrow corridors full of garbage and lonely places has something cynical. Belinger, accustomed to exposing human nature in all its miseries, tries an almost grotesque game about what terrifies us.
28 paranormal daysnothing new to show
But, without the right tools, that hint at the bottom of 28 paranormal days collapses in the middle of a soft staging. For its final chapters, the series mixes the urgency of leaving a message — even a vague and formless one — with ending the experience with a certain dignity.
It does not achieve it and it is that sensation of being an incomplete and basic production that is the poorest element in 28 paranormal days. A failed experiment that could have been, at least, a different look at the fear of having been executed with greater skill.