Friday, April 05, 2019

COLUMN: Goblins

A couple weeks back, I wrote about the suspension of disbelief, an important skill needed to appreciate nearly all movies or TV shows.

To enjoy "Twilight," you have to buy that it's super romantic when a 17-year-old girl falls for a 104-year-old vampire. The Syfy network's most successful film series requires us to accept the plausibility that mankind's greatest threat is tornados filled with sharks.

Even a simple sitcom like "Friends" forces us to to believe that a self-employed chef and a part-time barista can somehow afford a 1500 sq. ft. apartment in the West Village. Reality often takes a back seat when it comes to being entertained, and I'm usually fine with this. I've sat through ALL SIX Sharknado films, people.

I'm a sucker for paranormal "reality" shows, and that requires some hefty suspension of disbelief. I will watch any show where people are hunting ghosts, searching for UFOs, or finding (or NOT finding) Bigfoot. Our world can occasionally be a boring place, and I like adding the occasional dose of weird to my diet.

Do I buy into all of it? Not really, but I love the idea of ghosts floating around old mansions and alien visitors loitering around in the sky. The existence of Bigfoot sounds ludicrous, but so did the existence of giant vampire squid until we sent a rover to the bottom of the ocean and found one. Anything's possible, I guess.

But the suspension of my disbelief may have met its match with a new series on Youtube called "Hellier." You should binge it pronto.

Hellier follows a group of paranormal investigators who receive a series of e-mails from a frightened individual named David Christie, who claims he and his family have been terrorized regularly by small goblin-like humanoids emerging from an abandoned mineshaft on his rural Kentucky property. The e-mails come complete with some truly creepy photos.

So far, so good. Sure, mine goblins are a bit of a reach, but I'm game. After all, the goblins in Christie's pics look eerily similar to police sketches from one of the most famous UFO cases of the 1950s, where a family in Kentucky claimed to have had a shootout with alien creatures in their backyard. So suddenly these critters aren't just goblins, they're aliens.

But thanks to some tie-ins with the legendary Mothman case, the investigators theorize that they're not EXTRA-terrestrials, but rather ULTRA-terrestrials -- aliens from another DIMENSION. So now I have to believe that goblins are real, aliens are real, and that highly evolved alien goblins from gob-knows-where have mastered inter-dimensional travel in order to creep around the hollers of rural Kentucky. This is starting to be a bit much.

I won't tell you what the team find when they travel to Kentucky, because you should watch the show for yourself.

Okay, that's a lie and a spoiler alert. They travel to Kentucky and find... nothing. So they regroup at their hotel 20 miles away and decide to hold a spirit box session. And this is where they completely lose me.

A "spirit box" is a device popular on ghost hunting shows used to communicate with the afterlife. Basically it's a radio that quickly changes stations and plays mostly static. But as it races through the dial, occasionally you can discern words. The theory is that any ghosts in the vicinity can use their magic spirit juju to talk through the thing. I find this super silly, especially considering most ghost hunting occurs at historic old homes where they're trying to contact dusty old spirits from yesteryear who wouldn't even know what a radio IS, let alone how to become a post-mortem DJ.

So to recap: They're goblins. Alien goblins. Alien goblins from another dimension. And now they're alien goblins from another dimension who are apparently both (a) omniscient enough to know that people 20 miles away are trying to talk to them, and (b) omnipotent enough to talk back through a radio. Yet despite all their superpowers, these dimension-hopping goblin gods can only communicate via single-word responses like "Look!" "Coming!" "You!" "Here!" "Yes!" I call cowpoop on this one, sorry.

In the middle of the session, one of the investigators says, "I don't know if it means anything, but I just had a vivid image of a tin can appear in my head!" And later, when investigating one of these abandoned mines, they find... a TIN CAN! I know, what are the odds, right? Never mind that any clip I've ever seen of old-timey miners usually involves them cooking beans in a tin can over a campfire, and never mind that tin cans last about forever, and never mind that if you Google "abandoned mine," there's a tin can laying around in about 40% of the images. It's a spooky coincidence!

In fact, in the "Mothman Prophecies" book, famed UFOlogist John Keel writes that supernatural bogeymen can come in all shapes and sizes, "from twenty foot tall giants to animated tin cans." (You may gasp now.)

Despite what I consider its utter non-believability, "Hellier" is a great series and you SHOULD binge it. It's shot and paced wonderfully and it's magically creepy. Maybe you can suspend your disbelief long enough for it to make sense. But if you DO buy what they're selling, you might want to clean out your pantry. That can of beans in the back corner might just be an omniscient omnipotent ultra-terrestrial alien goblin. I don't think that's the kind of infestation you can clear up with a can of Raid, especially if the can of Raid is ALSO an omniscient omnipotent ultra-terrestrial alien goblin. 

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