Episode 50 (2011)

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The premise of this story was intriguing—have two investigative teams look at the same haunted location. One group attempts to debunk the paranormal, while the other believes in the supernatural.  The story basically bounced back and forth between these groups until their investigations converged on a haunting revelation.

Episode 50 came out when movies were still on a “found footage” kick and paranormal instigative teams were popular on reality television.  So it’s not surprising that this film combined those two elements.  Rather than blood and gore, the film focuses on building suspense though the use of off-screen laughter, tricks that you see in every instigative ghost show, and creepy shadows that walk in the background.

I’m not a fan of found footage films.  I hate all the jumping around from camera to camera and the occasional shakiness that comes from someone filming without the aid of a Steadicam rig.  Thankfully, the filmmakers succeeded at not making me motion sick or dizzy.  In fact, the film quality was actually pretty decent.  This was explained in one of the scenes by saying that teams used top of the line cameras and/or custom modified ones.

The debunking team was led by friends Jack (Josh Folan) and Damon (Chris Perry).  A childhood experience drove them to become paranormal instigators and overall skeptics of the supernatural.  Their investigative skills were spotlighted right away as audiences were shown Episode 49 of their reality show, which covered their investigation of Mary and Walter’s haunted home.

Jack and Damon’s team for Episode 50 included tech guy Jose (Robert Maisonett), guest host Kieron (Kieron Elliott), and researcher Andi (Natalie Wetta).  On the other side, we find the team of believers from ASSC led by Dylan (Keithen Hergott).  His group had tech guy Richie (Justin Brutico) and medium Lysette (Elanor Wilson).

This primary cast delivered solid performances.  Elliott gave my favorite moments, with Wetta and Wilson coming in a close second for their character portrayals.  I would have liked more interaction between Jack and Dylan, perhaps by playing up the team rivalry more.  Unfortunately, the story didn’t go in that direction.

The story really started out strong.  Episode 49 was wonderful.  I also liked how many of the characters revealed interesting things about themselves as the story progressed.  And the facility itself had a chilling backstory to follow.  But then the ending itself seemed rushed.  In the last act, we unnecessarily jump to a new location.  Dylan and Jack are now working together despite almost no relationship building in the earlier stages of the film.  And worse, there didn’t appear to be any resolution to the problem presented at the story’s climate.

For these reasons, the film receives 2.4 bowties out of 5.

2bows

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