Haunted Highway: Review
Sun 27 Jan, 11:30pm on Watch
The fundamental flaw with paranormal documentaries is that, if the programme makers had genuinely found any credible evidence of a peculiar phenomenon existing somewhere, they wouldn’t have marketed their programme as a paranormal documentary. They would have simply called it a documentary, and there would have been no need to sully a respectable exposé with overly dramatic flimflam and frequent use of The X-Files font.
Adding a celebrity to the mix never helps much either, particularly when the star in question is Jack Osbourne, son of comatose head banger Ozzy Osbourne. This is Haunted Highway, in which Jack and a few of his friends conduct utterly bullshit investigations into some of the most creative claims of paranormal activity.
A surprisingly endearing host, Jack stares eerily into a jerky hand-held camera and explains that he’s always been interested in the paranormal — which is perhaps a given when your dad’s the Prince of Darkness. But while he enjoys other paranormal programmes, he felt that, to produce some truly credible findings, he’d have to investigate these perplexing mysteries himself.
And so with the very glamorous Dana Workman, Jack’s first stop is at Bear Lake, which lies directly between the Utah–Idaho border. The local hicks there believe that there’s something in them waters that ain’t normal: something ten storeys high if it’s a foot. Yep, legend has it, it once ate a mule — a big-un too.
Despite having insufficient evidence to suggest that a creature actually exists in the lake, Jack and Dana are hooked. There’s no way they’re missing this brilliant opportunity, and so they wait until it’s dark enough for all their camera footage to look grainy and awful, and then they proceed out onto the lake.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not long until something strange happens. As the camera focuses on what I think is a bit of the boat, there’s a small thud and then the camera shakes, although not much.
“Holy — what is that!” Jack screams.
Dana takes a deep, anxious breath before she replies. “A rock?”
Could it be? Are the legends true? Is it a rock that haunts these eerie waters?
Obviously not — although that would have been far more interesting than what it is, which is nothing. In fact, that’s ultimately what Jack’s investigation amounts to: nothing — a big waste of money and time.
Seeming slightly dejected, Jack hands things over to his friends Devin and Jael, the latter of which is even more glamorous than Dana is. They’re after the Hairy Man of Vergas, Minnesota, but alas their investigation, like Jack’s, is completely fruitless. All they find when they set up their infrared cameras in the dark woods is somebody running around, arms flailing, dispensing bits of human hair, obviously as a joke.
“Everyone in that town knew we were there,” Jael reluctantly concedes. “It’s possible that someone decided to follow us and play a trick.”
Nevertheless, despite the poor findings, Jael seems determined to stay positive, insisting that the bits of hair left by the prankster count as “compelling evidence”. Obviously they don’t, and in many ways, the only remotely eerie part about the supposed mystery is that the investigators have been able to fool themselves into believing that their investigations aren’t painfully dull.
During the opening five minutes, Jack told viewers that what he discovered while making Haunted House “blew his mind”, which considering how little he discovered (i.e. nothing), should give readers a good idea of how terribly drawn out the programme is. It constantly assures viewers that it’ll deliver excitement and horror, and then when it doesn’t, consoles us with the notion that, while the mystery hasn’t been proven to be true, at least it hasn’t been debunked.
The worst part of it all is that Jack and co would likely be quite compelling in other circumstances, just not here.