Episode 50 (2011)

Episode 50 is a great idea and is cleverly setup but very poorly executed. The idea is a solid one, and one filled with message and meaning, but ultimately a lackadaisical approach to the “found footage” filming and a hilariously bad ending means Episode 50 is a 1000 almosts and 1 absolutely massive fail.

Paranormal Inspectors is a small-time American reality TV show, which prides itself on debunking hauntings and paranormal activity, and we first meet them on their 49th episode where they disprove a haunting based on faulty wiring and chemicals in the basement. But this is called Episode 50, not 49, and we swiftly move on…

Before they film their landmark 50th episode, a cancer-ridden philanthropist approaches them to prove that “inhumans” do not exist, so that when he dies he knows there will be no hell to greet him. To do this, the team is allowed to visit the most haunted place in America – the West Virginia Insane Asylum.

The PI’s snap up the idea as it’s been off-limits for decades thanks to – you guessed it – a series of unexplained deaths, from teenage darers to weather-weary tramps. They will be the first people to set foot in West Virginia Insane Asylum for years. Things go immediately from awesome to shitty when they find out another team of investigators has also been hired – the Academia Spirit Searcher’s Club, a group run by true believers in psychics, Gods and ghosts. Talk about awkward

The two TV documentary members agree to team together to tackle the asylum and – well – this is when Episode 50 starts to decline, rapidly, from decent to silly to absurd to appallingly bad and lands squarely at hilariously awful.

Episode 50 is a frustrating watch as it begins so damn well. The opening episode 49 is genuinely interesting and well created, and even the plot-heavy scene with our cancer-riddled millionaire bastard is cleverly played. Sadly when the “horror” begins Episode 50 becomes – honestly – a laughable mess. Why? Two reasons - Ghosts and “Found Footage”.

Ghosts are a tough subject to tackle – how much do you show? What do they look like? How do they act? Episode 50 doesn’t seem to know. Sometimes ghosts are visible, sometimes invisible, sometimes they wander about on the ceiling, sometimes they sprint down corridors, other times they communicate by whispering, other times with dead bees (don’t ask). Ultimately the ghosts aren’t scary and the reason for them existing is muddled and ridiculous. They blame this on an “inhuman” or demon, but this never makes a single bit of sense.

Found footage films need to be realistic. Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity work so well because you believe everything you see – it’s rare you question anything – and the “information” you receive on the screen could feasibly have been pieced together from actual found video footage. Episode 50 could not. At all. In any fucking way. I swear here because I’m so bloody angry the creators of Episode 50 could have audacity to think anyone would be fooled into thinking this “footage” is real. We see everything; ghost nurses, creepy ghost children, ghosts crawling on ceiling, a big horned fiery demon beast. Yes. A demon. Standing at a gateway to hell. It’s that fucking stupid.

Inconsistencies and continuity errors permeate the flaccid walls of Episode 50 and you’re constantly faced with bewildering decisions and creative failures. Apparently no one – including security guards – has been inside the Asylum for years, but when the film crews enter the floors are scrubbed clean, the lighting works perfectly and nothing has decayed. It makes for a frustrating watch.

Apart from the enjoyable opening sequence and cancer-riddled rich guy idea, there is only one other decent thing about Episode 50 and that is Kieron Elliott, the “special guest” on the show, who seems to be the only grounded – and only likeable – character on the film. Shame he literally disappears at the end of the film, when the creators thought that massively changing locations would be a good idea…

There is so much wrong with Episode 50 it’s difficult not making this into a giant rant. At one point one of the “Inspectors” is kidnapped by a ghost nurse, strapped to a gurney and given electroshock therapy over and over again. Then – inexplicably – she’s not being attacked anymore, and is happy to carry on with the TV show. And so is everyone else. It’s fucking idiotic.

Episode 50 is a broken rollercoaster. The build up is excellent but the actual ride is an abysmal, confused, aggravating mess. Kieron Elliott saved me from punching the TV in the face, I was that annoyed. Episode 50 is terrible. Please avoid.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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