TV Review: School Spirits: Episode 1 “Sorority House Terror” and Episode 2 “Dorm Room Nightmare”

Genre: Documentary | Horror | Drama

Air Date/Time: Episode 1 – Wednesday, June 20 at 10/9c
Episode 2 – Wednesday, June 27 at 10/9c

Network: Syfy

Created by: Seth Jarrett and Julie Insogna Jarrett

Summary:
School Spirits features chilling ghost stories from schools and universities across the country. Each tale is told through the first-person, eyewitness accounts of the students, alumni, faculty and historians who experienced the unexplained often terrifying phenomena, along with chilling dramatic reenactments. Executive Producers are Seth Jarrett and Julie Insogna of Jarrett Creative Group (Celebrity Ghost Stories) and Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor). The premiere season of Schools Spirits consists of six 1-hour episodes to air premiering Wednesday, June 20 @ 10PM ET/PT.

Episode 101 “Sorority House Terror” (University of Michigan)
In 2006, a group of students at the University of Michigan move into their new sorority house – a huge old house located just off campus. Almost immediately, unexplainable disturbances begin to occur. Girls fall mysteriously ill and fights erupt suddenly and without reason. A spectral figure of a man begins to terrorize them but they soon learn there may be a more sinister presence lurking in the house.

Episode 102 “Dorm Room Nightmare” (SUNY Geneseo, NY)
In the fall of 1985, a college sophomore and talented athlete with Olympic dreams begins the school year at SUNY Geneseo. He soon finds himself battling for his life and sanity when a horrifying apparition with a broken neck begins stalking him.

Everyone brings their own circumstances to their viewing experience. You can’t help but be affected by a show that connects to something in your life. School Spirits is reserved for those who are NOT going away to college and do NOT care about someone who is going away to college and who are NOT going away to college themselves. Because this show is your nightmare. For everyone else, especially those of you who enjoy these reenactment paranormal shows, you’re gonna dig it.

It follows the same format as its Syfy cousin Paranormal Witness, using interviews of the witnesses and dramatic reenactments familiar to the genre. The first episode, reportedly chosen because it was a big school with a familiar name and because it had an interesting twist, is a great starting point. It’s hard to talk about this one without spoiling, but some of the things that happen there feed straight into any freshman’s and freshman’s family’s biggest fears about living away from home. There are three main witnesses who talk about their experiences one year – 2009! – plus an historian who provides the background of this very creepy new-to-them sorority house.

The second episode revolves around one student’s experiences, which in some circumstances might seem suspicious. This man, however, comes off as completely, seriously believable, as do his friend and his roommate, and of the two episodes, this second one is more seriously scary.

Both episodes are very nicely produced, and draw the viewer in well. Having the episode last an hour gives a fair amount of time to really develop the story; five of the six episodes follow one story only. They also do one pretty fun consistent edit that I’ll warn you about but will still catch you off-guard, because it did for me, every single time. Right when the tension reaches a peak, it abruptly cuts to black before going to a commercial. Most of the time it made me gasp, though a couple of times it just made me laugh out loud. It then follows the usual convention of doing a slight rewind upon returning from the break, to build the tension back up a bit before revealing the actual scary thing. It’s a nice setup, and they execute it well.

In a recent interview the showrunners explained that they did a great deal of cross-checking and research for each episode, and found their sources through digging a bit, as they only used stories that people were not exactly shouting about. As they pointed out, people tend to think you’re crazy if you start talking about your own actual ghost stories. The first two episodes bear that out, and discuss why most of their stories were kept amongst themselves. I’m glad that they’ve now shared these, and I’m also glad that my son is not going away to school in the fall.

I give School Spirits: Episode 1 and Episode 2 Four Out of Five Stars.

 

 

Erin Willard
Written by Erin Willard

Erin is the Editor In Chief and West Coast Correspondent for SciFiMafia.com

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