Zak Bagans: Revisiting the Demon House
A Reappraisal of 2018’s Chilling Paranormal Documentary
“The following documentary may not be suitable for all audiences. This film shows real people, places and events involving alleged demonic possession. Demonologists believe that demons can attach themselves to you through other people, objects and electronic devices. View at your own risk.”
Zak Bagans’ Demon House begins with this ominous warning, leaving viewers nervous before the action even begins. If you’re predisposed to believing in aspects of the paranormal, a documentary like this might be just the thing to set you on edge, because what Bagans achieved with this 2018 documentary is nothing short of extraordinary. Even the most hardened sceptics amongst us might find themselves a little uneasy at some of the footage contained in the spooky one-off special, if they give the show a chance.
It seems the documentary happened by accident (or was it fate?) when the account of events is examined through a distant lens. According to Bagans’ own testimony in the documentary, he was alerted to a house going on sale in Gary, Indiana, USA, which was purportedly involved in a demonic haunting. The family who resided there — known as the Ammons family — were experiencing strange and frightening events which they blamed on a dark entity and they had put the house on sale. Apparently, Bagans’ “social media blew up” with people trying to reach him to inform him about the house, and he decided to purchase it then and there — sight unseen. It was a hell of a gamble (pardon the pun) and one that would cost the paranormal investigator and Ghost Adventures host dearly — in many ways.
His show Ghost Adventures — as well as other series, such as Deadly Possessions and House Calls — has helped Bagans build a solid fanbase through the years. He has a huge amount of support, along with his long-time team members Aaron Goodwin, Billy Tolley and Jay Wasley. It comes as no surprise that there was a lot of hype, buzz and interest around the Demon House project when it was initially announced. When it was finally released in 2018, few who watched it came away disappointed.
“This is the case that really fucked me up,” Bagans himself admitted during filming. That’s quite the admission for a man who had, at that point, investigated more than 1,000 alleged hauntings and was considered one of the world’s leading paranormal investigators. If the Demon House, as it came to be known, could do that to someone as experienced as him, what was it doing to the family involved, and what impact would it have on viewers who would later witness some of the phenomena for themselves?
Cursed from the start?
Bagans spoke about experiencing nightmares before and during filming, as well as becoming bed-ridden with an illness for over a week after taking on the documentary project. Several of his crew quit during filming and experts who took part in the show ended up in hospital. These types of things are often left to the realm of urban legend, and yet they happened. They were real; they were documented. Were these bad omens? Was something perhaps trying to stop the show from going ahead? It seemed so, because what eventually transpired during Bagans time filming the Demon House documentary would make him and his team question everything they thought they knew about hauntings, the demonic and possession.
The film itself was three years in the making, and it appears that host, author and investigator Zak Bagans threw himself into making it happen. The results were eventually released as a 90 minute special, and has since come to be known as one of the most impressive documentary’s on the paranormal to ever be released.
The origins of the story began in 2011. Latoya Ammons, her mother, Rosa Campbell, and her three children claimed paranormal activity occurred in their residence. Their account received national attention at the time. The experiences the family claimed to have had were nothing short of astounding — and at times were almost unbelievable — and yet there was a wealth of witnesses who allegedly saw some of the events first-hand, lending credence to the accounts within the documentary.
To some, this haunting was like a modern day Amityville Horror. A scared family, a lonely mother and several petrified children were all under some kind of attack. Whilst some critics might prefer to consider psychological issues as the root cause, it is hard to argue against the wealth of witness accounts (and the experiences he had himself) that Bagans accrued during his time filming the show. The reported phenomena included levitation, speaking in a different voice, and even a young boy “walking up a wall backwards” which was allegedly witnessed by a member of the Department of Child Services (DPS).
Wading boldly into this horror was Bagans who brought with him his team, his paranormal tech equipment and his experience to the house, which he purchased himself (eventually, the house was to be destroyed and bulldozed, which seems a fitting end to such a disturbing property).
The documentary that he ended up releasing was highly praised by many in the paranormal field and critics, with Steve Barton of Dread Central claiming the film was one of the “single most compelling documentaries on the existence of the supernatural that I’ve ever witnessed.”
With many unexplainable and unsettling phenomena caught on camera for the show, it is hard not to come away impressed — and more open minded to the reality of the paranormal. The serious approach of Bagans to the haunting, along with the activity he and his team eventually caught on camera result in a truly unsettling experience for his fans. The weight of evidence he gathered gives viewers a heavy dose of the type of experiences the Ghost Adventures host has spent years living with.
While not many would want to do what he does, many are thankful for his continued journey in the paranormal field, for it is evidence such as this which lends credence to the reality of things we cannot yet fully understand.