Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Look into The Haunting of Fox Hollow Farm: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by Gravitas Ventures.

Director: Dan T. Hall.

Cast: Chris Lein and Savahanna Wise (Paranormal State: The New Class); Marilene Isaacs, (Ghost Stories) Michelle Huff, Shannon Weides, Duane Datzman, Mike McDowell (Unmaksing the Dead); and Tracy Bacon (The Possessed).

Sometimes the study of what goes on in a real serial killer's mind can be just as fascinating as reading Red Dragon, or its better-known sequel, The Silence of the Lambs. To understand why these individuals are intent on killing, or even targeting specific individuals, can be considered morbid. But for psychologists, it can help lead to treatments so a problem child do not end up becoming the next generation. When the killer commits suicide before even being indited, he leaves a legacy.

The paranormal documentary The Haunting of Fox Hollow Farm does a good job at capturing some of that history and also piquing a curiosity seeker's interest.

The paranormal investigators are there to find phantom voices and visual proof of what may lurk at the farm. And maybe, at the same time, find some reasons to why serial killer Herb Baumeister did what he did. By day, he was a "model citizen," but by night, he was literally someone else. The area is supposed to be inhabited by many spirits of Baumeister's victims and the ripper himself. Anyone who decides to wander there in the night may get more than their pants soiled.

Supposedly, Baumeister targeted gay men. He met and took them home. In what happened the morning after, the method they were dispatched are all subject to allegations and interpretations that can be challenged in court. The first 30 minutes of this documentary by filmmaker Dan T. Hall explores most of this back-story. He does a reasonable job in compressing all the information that viewers need to know before the ghost hunt begins. The DVD screener makes a few spelling mistakes along the way and could benefit from balancing the audio levels—hopefully these will be corrected before the final release. Also, viewers who know the lore may find holes in the tale. But for others who want to know more about this individual may do better with reading the many books that explores his back-story in greater detail.

Not even his wife knew about his "obsession." She was often away when these dark events took place. While she did have her suspicions, she did not let the police explore the property until well after she divorced him. His erratic behaviour proved to be the tipping point. More could have been done to support these stories with newspaper clippings than wandering camera footage of the area and interviews that are just as obsessive with the bottom-up shot. The first half alone could have been a documentary in itself!

The second half is when the ghost hunt really begins. The film reveals a few recorded moments of electronic voice phenomenon. Not many voices of his victims are featured, and that could have made for a more interesting piece. Had the team of investigators, psychics, demonologists and technical specialists thought of spirit rescue, they might have saved a few lost souls along the way. At the same time, they would have raised the ire of Baumeister, and that could have led to some interesting paranormal activity!

This crew of paranormal investigators is smart. They do not antagonize the ghost of Baumeister. In the spirit realm, because of his actions, he would be categorized as a demon, a tormentor of souls. Had he become physically apparent to the team because of their actions, there might have been trouble!

But this documentary does state first and foremost that it is made for entertainment purposes only. For private investigators who are looking for evidence of what the walls have heard throughout the years, they are better off going there themselves to see what clues may still remain. And for curiousity seekers who cannot go there, the DVD release offers a bevy of extras. EVP sessions and other short clips from the actual investigation are included for other people to review.

But the proof of the pudding is in what the investigators felt after they were done for the night. They talked about the tragedy of what this case has left behind to the people of Westfield, Indiana. Just like other cases around the world, when a serial killer targets a particular orientation, race or occupation, that is the true legacy which gets remembered.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10.

For further reading:

Baumeister at Tru TV

Seven Skeletons at NY Times

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