Starring Llyr Ifans, Samuel Jones, Adam Leese
Directed by Tom Kingsley
I have no belief in the supernatural or any kind of afterlife, so the idea of a documentary drama hybrid series based on supposedly true supernatural occurrences seemed somewhat odd to me at first. And whilst I’m not convinced that the events described actually happened, or that the people involved are being completely honest, True Horror still deserves praise for trying, and occasionally succeeding, to offer something new in today’s crowded TV market.
The second episode looks at the case of Hellfire Farm. If you’ve seen any ghost movie ever, you know the drill. Long story short, a family move into a secluded house in the countryside, which, shock horror, turns out to be haunted. Whilst it’s been theorized that the location of the farm may have once been home to a cavern of witches, the exact history of this particular area of rural Wales seems to be lost, the way in which we see the family slowly losing control as the supernatural force begins to take control of their lives was still pretty unnerving, especially if you’ve ever found yourself growing apart from close family members for no clear reason.
The mix of documentary and dramatized elements presented something of an odd contrast, as though Channel 4 were desperately trying to appeal to fans of both mediums. And whilst it doesn’t always work, such as how the drama segments would occasional veer on soap opera territory (such as how the wife accidentally lets slip to her husband that she never liked his artwork), one area where this particular episode of True Horror did soar was the way in which it tapped into the struggles of the British working class. The was epitomized in a scene where an employee from the local electricity company seems to delight in telling the family that they will have their supply cut off if they don’t pay their bill. Believe me, I would love to say to my electricity supplier that I shouldn’t have to pay my bills because my house is haunted and it’s actually the ghosts using all the electricity, but somehow I don’t think it would fly in court.
On a more series note, there is something about “True Horror” which warrants further discussion. I’m talking about the question of exploitation. The mother of the family, who is the most prominent interviewee, claims to have seen everything from strange hooded men appearing at the foot of her bed to a seven foot tall figure with the head of a bird, appearing in her former home on Hellfire Farm. Now, I hate to be that guy, but usually, if someone told you that they saw a seven foot birdman rampaging through their kitchen, you’d probably suggest that they get psychological help. In other words, was it a moral decision of Channel 4’s part to potentially exploit a woman who was either being dishonest or generally believes that she actually saw the things she claims to have seen, which may speak to her mental state? Surely it would have been for her to receive the help she probably needs rather than going on TV?
Even though I don’t believe that the events described actually occurred, I did learn something from the Hellfire Farm episode of True Horror, which is that it’s apparently normal a complete stranger to show up asking if he can camp in your yard. Because that happens in the episode, and it’s treated as the most mundane thing in the world. The filmmakers were concerned with telling the audiences about how the camper supposedly experienced strange visions during the night, but the burning question I had was why the hell did a complete stranger come to the family’s home asking if he could camp in their yard? Is that some kind of weird Welsh tradition or something?
In any case, if you find yourself channel surfing this Thursday, True Horror should prove to be an enjoyable enough way to spend fifty minutes of your life.
It won’t win over any skeptics, but this week’s episode of True Horror still provided an enjoyable enough look into Britain’s obsession with the supernatural.
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