This image was taken from the official trailer of “28 Days Haunted,” distributed by Netflix.

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s the time of year for ghosts, witches, ghouls and midterms. Everyone loves a good freaky fall thrill, which is what Netflix attempts to provide in their new show “28 Days Haunted.” Tagged by Netflix as reality television and TV horror, “28 Days Haunted” makes a tragic attempt at combining ghost hunting with the usually lovable reality TV tropes of forced proximity and isolation. The result? The unbelievably corny display that is “28 Days Haunted.”

“28 Days Haunted” is a peculiar combination of paranormal investigation and reality television based on the theories and techniques of infamous so-called experts of the paranormal, Ed and Lorraine Warren. A self-taught demonologist and a clairvoyant, respectively, the Warrens have famously led hundreds of ghost hunts, seances and spirit searches — the stories of which have been the origins for several famous horror movies such as “The Amityville Horror,” “Annabelle,” “The Conjuring” and many more.

The Warrens have claimed that the key to a successful paranormal investigation and creating a true connection with any spirits is their 28-day cycle, which requires investigators to remain in their place of study for a full 28 days with no contact with the outside world. Although the Warrens are famous figures in the history of ghost hunting, the integrity of their work has often been called into question, with some claiming all of their recorded investigations and stories to be fraudulent. Regardless of the supposed validity of their past works, “28 Days Haunted” aims to recreate the Warrens’ 28-day cycle with three different groups of investigators in three different locations, each thought to be haunted: Madison Dry Goods Store in North Carolina, the Lumber Baron Inn of Denver, and Captain Grant’s Inn of Preston, Conn. The experienced investigators range from psychics and mediums to demonologists and paranormal researchers, all hoping to further their understanding of the supernatural with the successful completion of the 28-day cycle. In both the world of paranormal investigation and reality television, “28 Days Haunted” is voyaging into uncharted TV territory — but unfortunately, it’s not as thrilling as one would hope. 

The main drawback of “28 Days Haunted,” and the issue that prevents it from packing any sort of supernatural punch is perspective. Although the audience does witness the visceral reactions of the investigators as they (assumedly) encounter the supernatural, these otherworldly interactions can only be observed by the audience, giving us little to no thrill or excitement. It may be a horror show for the show’s participants, but the viewer has no reason to agree or be interested whatsoever. The show is simply not scary.

Because the storyline of “28 Days Haunted” is completely dependent on the ghost hunters’ perspectives, many of their reports of paranormal activity simply come off as insincere and corny. Listening to a bunch of psychics ramble about dark energy and visions of death and blood for half an hour can be difficult to take seriously — and that is essentially the entirety of “28 Days Haunted.” Unfortunately, the cringey elements of the show aren’t limited to simply the dialogue — the imagery and production style, while classic for your typical ghost-hunting show, are a little old-fashioned for a Netflix reality TV show. Perhaps the show’s corniness could have been alleviated by the use of a different production style or genre of show, but Netflix’s overly ambitious choice of the reality TV genre for “28 Days Haunted” made escaping clichés all but impossible. 

Now, maybe a comical and charismatic cast of characters could have made “28 Days Haunted” at least somewhat worth watching. Sadly, that’s simply another element on which the show does not deliver. The eclectic collection of psychics and investigators in the show contribute little excitement, their proclamations of visions and spiritual energies becoming unbearably repetitive at times. This is especially problematic because they are the audience’s only lens into the horrors they experience. With every crew member determined to uncover the spirits of their haunted locations, there is little to no interesting conflict created that would be typical of reality television — except the conflict between investigators and ghosts, which we as the audience can’t witness. Without the classic duality of believers and skeptics (think Ryan and Shane from “Buzzfeed: Unsolved” or Scully and Mulder from “The X-Files”) the dynamic of the show’s cast was bland, possessing none of the personality so essential to reality TV cast members. With an unbelievable plot bordering on kitschy and a tragically boring cast of investigators, “28 Days Haunted” is irredeemable at every turn.  

Although the show valiantly attempted to capture the thrill and excitement of the supernatural, “28 Days Haunted” simply failed in every way, leaving viewers bored when they should have been on the edge of their seats, and yawning when they should have been shaking in fear. The only thing scary about “28 Days Haunted” is Netflix’s horrifying failure to capitalize on the most intriguing aspects of both its desired genres of reality and horror television. Stick to true crime and horror documentaries, Netflix — clearly, genre experimentation is just not for you. 

Daily Arts Writer Annabel Curran can be reached at