Paranormal State – Season 1

Paranormal State chronicles the paranormal adventures of Ryan Buell and the Paranormal Research Society (PRS) located at Penn State. Ryan and his group of college friends help those troubled with paranormal or otherworldly phenomenon. Ryan had his own terrifying experiences, now he works to help others combat their demons, so to speak.

In a similar vein as Ghost Hunters, Ryan meets with clients and hears their tales of apparitions and unusual experiences. Many of the people he visits seem to be troubled by spirits who either aren’t at rest because of some tragic event in their past or may in fact be evil or at least malevolent spirits who simply wish to torment others. Of course the clients may be crackpots who just want some attention or people who see Elvis at diners across the country and the face of Jesus in pancakes.

Along with Ryan is the rest of his team, Sergey, Katrina, Heather and Eilfie to help conduct interviews, research and handle the tech equipment. And if something does happen to Ryan there is someone to call 911.

Their investigations center on discovering the “dark forces” that surround a home which normally involves investigating the history of the house, what kind of tragic events may have taken place there and in many cases a visit and consultation from Chip Coffey, psychic and medium. Just about every place he goes Chip gets bad vibes from the house and spirits that are still present in the location. His psychic senses almost always confirm the stories the owners have related and in many cases reveals a few things the clients have held back. When you say your house is haunted it’s probably a good idea to come forth with all the information.

We also get a few visits from Lorraine Warren, the medium made famous because of the Amityville hauntings. She shows up several times to give Ryan and his team advice on how they should proceed and what to look for. You also get the sense that Lorraine has seen some really strange stuff.

Unlike Ghost Hunters whose main goal is to debunk paranormal activity, PRS tries to rid homes of the unforeseen entities. This may involve the owners telling the spirits to get out during “Dead Time”, making an offering to the spirits to appease them, offering a ritual to help them pass over, blessing of the house by the clergy or even more extreme measures such as cleansing rituals and even exorcism. Ryan has indeed gone the exorcism route.

The evidence PRS collects may seems suspect. It certainly could be what they’re describing, such as a heat signature of a hand on the wall, the sound of a voice caught on tape or cold spots moving around the room, but in many cases there’s precious little evidence and after a three day investigation they may have only one small snippet they’ve managed to capture. Conversely, Ghost Hunters manages to rack up the evidence in their single day investigation. However, Ryan and his team use their tools for monitor, rather than sustained evidence gathering. The evidence certainly falls in the realm of personal experiences and making the home owners feel more comfortable rather than truly explaining the odd behavior. Banging of pipes could be the dead getting attention, but it could be a plumbing issue or the house settling.

It may be hard to justify these events as haunting, but the clients believe it is and to them it’s as real as it can be. It’s a strange reversal since the clients on Ghost Hunters want their houses to be haunted and those on Paranormal State want the demons out.

Many times the show feels amateurish with a touch of the Blair Witch, but considering this group isn’t actors it just gives it a unique look and feel. Ghost Hunters felt the same way for season 1, but with season 2 the budget was bigger and the look was more polished. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if there are true events or the people involved simply believe there are events. Many times there’s really is no evidence to support paranormal claims of any kind, but blessed Saint Michael medals are given to the clients and buried on the property. For a band of college students they certainly find themselves in some pretty wild situations. It’s still fun stuff to watch because what if it were real, what if you really found yourself in that situation, standing next to a priest as he commanded an evil spirit to leave a child of God? What if you were standing in a dark room asking a force to show its presence when pictures fall to the floor or loud bangs shakes the table? I mean holy crap, how would you not be unnerved by that?

I don’t know whether the show makes you any more or less a believer but I have to admit I would jump at the chance to go along on their cases and see the activity for myself.

I also give Ryan and his team full credit for pursuing their passion and if they bring peace to a family, whether the threat is real or imagined, then they’ve accomplished something.

There is no doubt I like this show and I’m excited to vicariously go along on their adventures.

Paranormal State – Season 1 (Amazon)
Paranormal State – Season 1 (Netflix)

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