It was like something out of a horror movie: a series of strange, unexplainable occurrences began happening to a family living in a small Indiana town, and the results of those happenings became their own supernatural legend. Back in 2014, Latoya Ammons and her three youngchildren started experiencing abnormal signs in their Gary, Indiana home including swarms of dark flies, bizarre seizures, and the children speaking in dark, aggressive voices. Even with the help of clairvoyants, priests and other health professionals the house still retained its horrible evil energy; so the Ammons decided to pack up and flee.
Despite the myriad of witnesses who have accounted for Ammons’ claims, there have been a number of naysayers and nonbelievers, but one avid believer is paranormal investigator and host of Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures Zak Bagans. Bagans purchased the house from its landlord after hearing about the Ammons family’s supernatural encounters and carefully documented his journey in discovering the house’s dark truths in his documentary Demon House. A disclaimer opens the film and advises to proceed with caution: Even seeing the film could inspire the demons to target the viewer because as demonologists believe, demons could attach themselves through different people or even electronic devices. Similar to the ‘Beware’ sign weary travelers are faced with when they see a haunted house: Enter at your own risk.
What follows then is a serious investigation into the Ammons’ home led by Bagans and a film crew to uncover the lore behind it and see if there is any truth to the hauntings the Ammons experienced. Ghost Adventures fans know Bagans to be an energetic host on his regular paranormal show, but here in Demon House, the series of events that take place in the documentary’s filming inspired Bagans to take a more stony approach in his narration. Following a preface by Bagans where he tells of a dream of a dark goat figure that breathed black smoke and waking up the next morning with sore lungs, he says he learned of the Ammons’ story the morning after and bought the house, sight unseen. Bagans and his crew start their investigation by tracking down major players in the house’s story, but Latoya Ammons herself refuses to take part in the documentary for fear of demons being transferred to her from Bagans.
The film takes on a pretty similar route as many other paranormal investigation docs but goes further than most with its unprecedented footage of unexplainable events. In fact, what bolsters the film’s claims against the Ammons story being a hoax the most are its realdocumented footage of Bagans and some of his crew members experiencing aggressive outbursts they can’t remember afterwards. Partner this with accounts of some of the witnesses, and even squatters who stayed in the house after it was abandoned and their experiences, and it all feels way too real. Among those who testify are Valerie Washington, the Child Protection Services case worker who saw Ammons’ son walking backwards up a wall. Washington, who worked the homicide division and had seen every manner of grisly child murder scene in her career, says after seeing that sight, she promptly left her job and sought therapy to alleviate that disturbing visual.
Reverend Michael Maginot is also another such witness who gives the story some credibility. Maginot was called on to perform an exorcism on the family and house, and claims he noticed unsettling signs like fresh, wet footprints in a room, Venetian blinds swinging without an air current, and strange flickering lights whenever he walked into a room. Maginot also claims that whenever he placed a crucifix on her forehead, Latoya Ammons went into convulsions.
To experience the Demon House’s ‘Portal of Hell’ for himself, Bagans barricaded himself inside the house for a night, and some visibly creepy occurrences transpired, like a terrible pain behind both his eyeballs. Now after filming, Bagans says he needs special glasses because of the pain caused some strange double vision in his eyes, which doctors haven’t been able to explain how it could just happen all of a sudden. “Whether you believe or you don’t believe, this investigation, to me, was more an investigation of really credible people,” Bagan says. “I’m glad I experienced what I experienced; I think it was a really intense case and I think it was a really high level of demonic possession.”
All in all, if you’re of the spooky persuasion and are in the mood for something sinister to unsettle your dreams and keep you awake at night, Demon House can do that quite easily. Even deeper, if you’re up to check out some real artifacts from the Ammons’ story, head to Bagans’ Haunted Museum in Las Vegas* where he kept the Demon House’s original staircase and found objects— it will make all the horrors seem even more real. Bagans demolished the original house in hopes of expelling the evil spirits for good, but for all we know they could still be emanating somewhere else, along with the other terrors of the unexplained.
*Full disclosure: Yours truly was treated to a special flight via JetSuiteX, a semi-private charter plane, to visit the Haunted Museum in Las Vegas to view the artifacts in learning about the film and its subject matter. And boy did they ever send chills up my spine…
Demon House is available to watch in select theaters and on VOD through iTunes.
Aimee Murillo is calendar editor and frequently covers film and previously contributed to the OCW’s long-running fashion column, Trendzilla. Don’t ask her what her favorite movie is unless you want to hear her lengthy defense of Showgirls.