One of the things I want to do most with the blog is to point out other weird media. Books, podcasts, other blogs–anyone and anything that I’ve stumbled across which falls into the broad categories of magic or the paranormal.
There are a lot of very talented people doing a lot of very good research and producing a lot of very good content. Few of them get the recognition I think they deserve. Maybe I can help with that a little.
Right away, though, let me say that these posts aren’t meant to be true “reviews.” I’ll probably tag them as such here (because algorithms), but they’re not remotely objective or unbiased. These are recommendations of things I enjoy. Take ’em or leave ’em.
With that out of the way, let’s recommend Hellier.
Hellier is a “Planet Weird” paranormal documentary series created and featuring Dana Newkirk, Greg Newkirk, Karl Pfeiffer, Connor J. Randall, and Tyler Strand. It’s wild. From the description they wrote on the official trailer for the first season of the show…
“Planet Weird presents HELLIER, a five-part, cinematic documentary series following an investigation into unsolved mysteries, impossible synchronicities, and a web of high strangeness which stretches from the heart of Appalachian coal country. Driven by a plea for help from a man under supernatural assault, a small crew of paranormal researchers find themselves in a dying coal town, where a series of strange coincidences leads them to a decades-old mystery with far-reaching implications.”
Anything else I might write about the content of the show would almost be too “spoilery,” so I’ll just leave it at that and get on with why I like it.
First, the cinematography and overall production value of this series is so far above and beyond any other paranormal documentary that it’s insane. Karl Pfeiffer–the director of Hellier as well as a participant–did an outstanding job, and utterly ruined every other spooky show for me.
Second, the group takes a very “John Keel” approach to what they’re doing, which is fully their intention. They walk into the weirdness with open arms and little pre-judgement, letting the phenomena take them wherever it wants to. If you’ve read and enjoyed The Mothman Prophecies (which the group references frequently) you’ll know what I mean.
Lastly, and most-importantly for me, Hellier is not only not afraid to show the group’s failures and disappointments, but that honestly seems to be half the point of the show. In most of the paranormal documentaries I’ve seen, every effort is made to convince you that “Something Significant Has Happened.” It’s all very carefully edited so that every E.V.P. session gets a voice, every question asked with a spirit box gets an answer, and every other camera shot is filled with “orbs.”
That’s not true of this show. The first season of Hellier almost feels like a let down when you compare the first episode to the last two. They hooked me with a great first episode filled with lots of weird potential, then it sort of becomes a “slow burn” experience around the middle of episode three, and then by the end I was like: “Uhh…was that it?”
It was actually very frustrating in a lot of ways, but a well-placed, “I see what you did there” shot in the last five seconds of the fifth episode sold me on watching the second season.
And the second season is totally, unashamedly bonkers in the most wonderful way.
Hellier is available to watch on Amazon Prime, if you have it, but it’s also legally and freely available on YouTube.
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