This three disc set from Reality Films supposedly shows us 'real ghosts' in the United Kingdom, a country with a rich history and ripe for supernatural explorations such as this. Each of the three episodes takes place in a haunted location and an 'acclaimed psychic and medium' named Patrick McNamara leads some adventurous types through sessions in which they all sit around in the dark, talk a lot, and supposedly see some ghosts. Sounds pretty good, right? On paper (or in this case, monitor) maybe, but the proof is in the pudding...
The Mermaid Inn:
After a portly man who speaks in mumbled tones explores some of the rooms of this supposedly haunted inn, we are then treated to a talking head interview with the cute blonde proprietor of said inn who tells us of its history and of some of the hauntings that occur there. Located in Rye, England, this is supposedly one of the most haunted locations in the southern part of the country, so this reviewer's expectations were high as to the type of paranormal activity that GhostCircle might be able to capture. Sadly, those hopes were dashed as after the woman who runs the place finishes yapping, we get more talking head interviews with a few employees. Once the investigation proper gets underway there is some interesting infra-red camera footage that shows the group supposedly coming into contact with some of the spirits that haunt the location. We can't see them, we instead have to rely on text that pops up and notifies us when something is happening. Apparently at one point some photoplasm appears on one guys fingers, but his back is to us, so all we see is that he's wearing a nice, comfy looking sweater. When it's all over, the same group of talking heads discuss how impressive all of this was, but really, it's just eighty minutes of people sitting around in the dark.
Scotland's Haunted Bunker:
What self respecting fan of ghost hunting wouldn't want to check out a haunted bunker in Scotland? With the disappointing first entry having proven quite boring, this reviewer once again got his hopes up, expecting interesting footage or EVP evidence of supernatural activity. Surely this couldn't be another hour and a half of people sitting around in the dark yapping on and on about things they see but which we can't and showing no signs of fear or interest whatsoever... could it? An intro piece shows off the location, a military installation, before we once again hear from those who have experienced the paranormal at this site, and then we watch another hour's worth of people sitting around a table inside the bunker talking to one another and supposedly interacting with spirits, again, shot with an infra-red camera giving everyone an odd green appearance. Once again we hear people mention that they're having strange experiences with their fingers, yet the near-stationary camera captures none of it. They wave their hands over a trumpet and note that it feels weird, and Patrick asks a spirit that only he can see to appear on camera. It doesn't. The group stand in a circle and holds hands to feel the energy but we see only more sweaters and slacks and suffer through more inane dialogue. How on Earth these guys managed to make something so cool as a haunted bunker so boring is a mystery in and of itself.
The Guy Fawkes Inn:
Having not gotten much of anything out of the first two episodes, it wasn't all that surprising to learn that the third episode of this tepid series was essentially more of the same. The Guy Fawkes Inn is the location of the third and final exploration into England's supernatural history. Once again we get an introductory scene that sets the stage and tells us about some of the haunting, and then after some more obligatory talking head interviews, head into the investigation. This time around, one of the participants claims to see Michael Jackson's face appear. What exactly the King of Pop is doing haunting the Guy Fawkes Inn is anyone's guest, but yeah, one guy sees Michael Jackson's ghost. One dude claims to put his hand through a ghost, but we don't see the ghost, we just see a guy moving his hand in the dark.
While it's very likely that those involved in these odd excursions into the supernatural left completely convinced that by waving their hands over a trumpet they had in fact communicated with spirits of various types, the videos here do nothing to convince us of that fact. In fact, the vast majority of the material contained in this set is deadly boring. It moves at a snail's pace, offers very little of interest, is poorly shot and poorly recorded, and is, quite frankly, a chore to site through - and this from someone who considers himself a sucker for ghost shows in all their many and varied forms. There's really not much to enjoy here - the set ups are interesting and the stories of the haunting fun to learn about, but the long, drawn out sequences of McNamara and his cronies 'communicating' are just flat out bad.
Real Ghosts UK arrives on DVD in a 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that, aside from the fact that it's not been flagged for progressive scan, generally looks pretty good for what it is. There isn't a ton of detail here as it all appears to have been shot on consumer grade digital video under sometimes less than ideal circumstances but it's watchable enough.
The sole audio mix on this release is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track and generally it sounds pretty bad. Levels are not at all well balanced and are instead all over the place. In the positive side, there are no problems with hiss or distortion to note, but on the negative side, it's hard to hear anything anyone is saying. Channel separation is noticeable here and there but it's not really going to floor you or anything but it's unlikely a surround mix would have added much.
Aside from an ugly menu that's difficult to navigate based on the poor way that it's been laid out, there's a forced promo spot for other Reality Films releases set to a corny death metal soundtrack that plays before you start the main content. That's it, and it's an advertisement, not an extra feature. Somewhat related, the case that the three discs come inside sucks. The discs come loose very easily and will no doubt be floating around inside it before it makes its way to you.
Some of the content here will be marginally interesting to ghost nuts, as the legends surrounding some of the series that the crew here investigates are quite fascinating but this material was put together quickly, cheaply, and poorly. Skip it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.