Haunted Ulster Live (2023) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Haunted Ulster Live (2023) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on September 01st, 2023 | Movie Review | Supernatural, Thriller, Holiday, Haunted House, Found Footage, Dangerous Exploration, B-Horror, Paranormal Proof

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It's about TV veteran Gerry Burns, who teams up with popular children's presenter Michelle Kelly to investigate poltergeist activity in a haunted house in Belfast until a seance causes the broadcast to descend into chaos.

Haunted Ulser Live was directed by Dominic O'Neill and stars Aimee RichardsonSiobhan KellyAntoinette MorelliOwen JamesDave Fleming, and Mark Claney.

Haunted Ulster Live Review

"Haunted Ulster Live" introduces viewers to a unique television experience. Presented by Gerry Burns (played by Mark Claney), the show takes us on an experimental simulcast journey back to Halloween night in 1998, where Castle Gardens in northern Ulster becomes the eerie backdrop. Here, a family home shrouded in tales of paranormal activity takes center stage. Gerry, an aging television personality, hosts the live on-location coverage with his younger colleague Michelle Kelly (Aimee Richardson). Simultaneously, DJ Declan (Dan Leith) adds a layer of audio intrigue as he mixes music for his radio show, Ice FM, from the allegedly haunted attic of the house. The story revolves around a single mother, Sarah McKillen (Siobhan Kelly), her son Stephen (Jay Lowey), and her younger daughter Rose (Libby McBride). They've all experienced strange occurrences in their home. The line-up of paranormal investigators, including tech-savvy 'ghostbusters' Kyle (Owen James), Daryl (Brendan Quinn), the sensitive medium Sinead Love (Antoinette Morelli), and dowser Robert Pratt (David Fleming), are determined to uncover the source of these mysterious events. However, they're divided over whether the house's original builder and resident, John Newell, an older local legend named Blackfoot Jack, or simply paranoia is responsible for the haunting.

"Haunted Ulster Live" presents itself as a television show like no other, but its format and concept are not entirely novel. Gerry Burns introduces it with a sense of anticipation, but the show's attempt to claim pioneering novelty quickly becomes questionable. While the film aligns itself with the "live broadcast" concept, it deviates from the unsettling narrative style of "Ghostwatch," a celebrated British TV program that aired in 1992. "Haunted Ulster Live" is not a TV show but a film directed by Dominic O'Neill. This distinction sets it apart from the ghostly and provocative allure of "Ghostwatch," which had viewers across the UK questioning the line between reality and fiction. The suspense and unease of "Ghostwatch" were heightened by its use of real television personalities and the illusion that the events were occurring in real time.

In contrast, "Haunted Ulster Live" feels borrowed and shopworn. Gerry Burns' claim that it's a show like no other contradicts the familiarity of its premise, which closely mirrors that of "Ghostwatch." It's challenging to assert originality for a work that undeniably resembles something that came before it, especially when that something was a significant cultural phenomenon.

However, "Haunted Ulster Live" deviates from the blueprint laid by "Ghostwatch" in a few crucial ways. It explores the complex relationship between time, history, and the supernatural, offering a richer and more intricate narrative than it initially appears. While the film's inspiration may have originated with the London-based "Ghostwatch," it gradually shifts to embrace a Venezuelan haunting. This shift forces viewers to contemplate how pagan history, local legends, domestic events, and the present moment can intersect in one location and timeframe. "Haunted Ulster Live" challenges viewers to discern between reality and the irrational, leaving them pondering the blurred lines between the past, present, and future.

The film doesn't shy away from its derivativeness. A character acknowledges the audience's expectation that the night's events are staged for entertainment but then adds, "But this happened to me." This dual role, as both creepy comedy and personal tragedy, creates layers of meaning in the film. It highlights the tension between popular entertainment and lived experiences, making the narrative more intricate than initially perceived.

Worth Watching?

"Haunted Ulster Live" joins a recent wave of 'haunted broadcast' films inspired by "Ghostwatch." It explores the fusion of the supernatural with reality, where the medium becomes integral to the message. However, its manipulation of time sets it apart from its peers. The film cunningly collapses past, present, and future, challenging viewers to decipher the nuances of history continually repeating itself. The film ultimately invites us to contemplate the intricate connections between the supernatural, the real, and the passage of time.

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