Bumps In the Night Hunts Ghosts, Finds Jokes

It’s a sad fact that those who devote themselves to the world of paranormal investigation are oftentimes rational society’s punching bags, rarely taken seriously by those with more pedestrian outlooks on the natural world. True believers find themselves routinely mocked and ridiculed — even Fox Mulder of The X-Files couldn’t catch a break (and he looked like David Duchovny).

Nonetheless, shows like the Sci Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters score impressive ratings and inspire countless spin-offs and rip-offs. Is it because Americans, no matter how much they might protest otherwise, are fascinated by the possibility that there’s something more on this earth than what’s plain before us? Or is it because the people on these shows are crazy, and that’s never short on entertainment value?

The latter is probably what the creators of Bumps in the Night are banking on. A fake reality series following a pair of bumbling paranormal nuts, whose day job as pool-cleaners might be turn out to be the break they need, the second episode debuted today on Strike.TV, chronicling Emmett (Emmett Furey) and Greg (Greg Benevent)’s attempts to save a girl from the ghost haunting her pool. Hopefully, there’ll be some information of use on the Internet and their supervisor at the pool-cleaning company (John Reha) won’t get in the way.

Bumps is short on serious narrative but surprisingly quick-witted and fast paced — especially given that episodes run a little long for web series, coming in at around 6 minutes on average. Appropriating a documentary-style storytelling approach for the purposes of fiction has gone from being fresh (This Is Spinal Tap) to being completely overplayed (most recently, Frost/Nixon certainly didn’t cause any stir at last night’s Academy Awards). But Bumps uses the format to move quickly from bit to bit, intercutting overconfident interview segments with Emmett and Greg’s awkward attempts to look like they actually know what they’re doing. (A funny, not very NSFW moment in the second episode features Emmett thinking he’s discovered the Babylonian demon Azusu in their apartment, only to discover that a more earthly phenomenon is in progress in their roommate’s bedroom.)

Bump‘s biggest strength is how character-driven it is; the interview portions do a great job of drawing out the passion that each man holds for his chosen obsession, and the interspersed clips of Emmett and Greg’s previous failed attempts to capture footage of the beyond give them an underdog charm; even though Emmett and Greg are clearly idiots, there’s still a desire to see them succeed in their quest. Maybe that’s the thing about the paranormal — even if we don’t actually believe, maybe there’s a part of us that wants to be proven wrong.

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