Directed by: Robert Child

Released by: Rob Childs & Associates
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: No.

My Advice: Avoid It.

The town of the title is apparently New Hope, Pennsylvania. There is a veritable slew of spirits walking about the place, so much so that ghost tours are commonplace and people have just accepted them as part of life in the…ahem…small city. This documentary’s aims are simple, as stated on the back of the DVD’s case: “The spirits of New Hope want to share their true nature with the world. This is their town and this is their story.”

When I first heard about this program, I was looking forward to it. You see, I’ve long been a fan and ardent (but highly skeptical) believer in the paranormal. I eat up the documentaries that are commonplace on The Discovery Channel and whatnot. Trouble is, all those documentaries are a little too bombastic for my tastes–I wish somebody would do a straightforward, well-done documentary that doesn’t try to titillate with over-narration or any such crevice that it’s easy for such films to fall into. This film, as you may have gathered, is certainly not that answer to my quest.

[ad#longpost]The problems are manifold. First, other than people stating, “We sure do have a lot of ghosts here” I never got the idea as to why it should be “America’s most haunted town.” Why should New Hope have that title? Granted, we’re taken to a number of sites and told stories–but surely it wouldn’t have been too much trouble to throw a map up on the screen with dots to show sightings. That kind of map, if it would turn out to look like the lightning strike one they use on the local weather, would impress. But otherwise, this is just a series of strung-together interview bits with people from the town, talking about ghosts.

Not helping the credibility of the subject matter is Cathe Curtis, the spirit sensitive who is shown on camera exploring the various inns and such that the documentary visits. We’re then treated to a bunch of still shots of what look like water damage to photos (these are the ectoplasmic orbs that represent the spirits, apparently) and Curtis wandering about talking to the spirits like they’re all the mental equivalent of six-year-olds. It’s a terrifying thought that when we die we come back as balls of ectogunk that need to be treated like kindergarteners. Her interjections of “Love you!” when trying to get the spirits to come out are downright comical.

There are also video snippets of things in slow motion. Well, I say “things in slow motion,” but the two that I recall from viewing the film…ah…don’t seem to have anything in them that’s moving, slow or otherwise. They can have captioned whatever spirit we’re supposed to be seeing, but even right up on the screen I couldn’t see a damned thing. No pun intended. There are two encounters with “lights” in the cemetery, but they’re pathetic. One appears to be undulating and changing shape until, after a minute, you realize it looks like somebody’s porch light filmed through some trees. Another small ball of light hangs around outside the cemetery gate. It’s not very impressive–it stays in one spot and doesn’t do anything but turn off and on with Curtis cooing to it–and there’s no reason to think it’s not some guy dressed in black with a flashlight.


I’m saying all of these skeptical things because there’s no reason to say anything else. See, the real documentary I’m looking for would have said, “You know, these ectoballs look like soap scum, but here’s why they’re not.” Or… “You know, you might think that that’s a guy in black with a flashlight, but here’s why it’s not.” But instead, we’re presented with it with no supporting evidence whatsoever–and the thing turns into a comedy. For a film that goes to great lengths to state up front that “Absolutely no computer generated images have been used in this production,” they do absolutely nothing to back themselves up on that. Sad.

As for the disc itself, there are no features–just the film. And as for the film, there are no chapter stops even though there are breaks between locales that would have been perfect places to put some.

Frankly, I believe in the paranormal less now than when I did starting out with this thing. The filmmakers might have had the best of intentions and Ms. Curtis might be the nicest of people in real life–and for all I know she really can communicate with the dead–but none of that comes through on the disc. Avoid at all costs.

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