The Travel Channel and discovery+’s popular Shock Doc series returns with another Steve Shippy and Cindy Kaza team-up centered on one of the most documented, yet little known hauntings of all time called the Michigan Hell House.
Michigan Hell House airs on Sunday, February 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on both the Travel Channel and discovery+ and examines the reasons behind the years of silence, the original documents and recordings associated with the case that took place from 1974-1975, and new evidence about the bizarre haunting.
Shippy begins the documentary by grounding the paranormal events that terrorized the Pomeraning family in the tiny town of Merrill, Michigan (close to where Shippy himself was raised) in reality with close-ups on dozens of police reports and audio recordings featuring voices of police officers, fire fighters, and investigators. This technique draws the viewer in, especially when the cliché “based on a true story” line can be backed up with actual historical documents.
After the brief, but engaging hook, Shippy introduces Terry and Duane Pomeraning, who were teenagers at the time that events took place fifty years ago. It is clear from the interviews with them (conducted in person by Shippy) that the brothers have deep and disturbing memories of the year spent in their old house (even when Duane has trouble remembering one fateful day in particular, which is used as a “plot device” throughout most of the documentary). Shippy’s easy-going, yet serious demeanor allows the brothers to be honest and emotional, something that is often missing from paranormal specials like this one.
The believable tales of constant loud knocking and explosions supported by the police reports and neighbor’s testimony set the viewer up for further investigations into more unbelievable phenomenon such as disembodied voices and spontaneous combustion. Even these later incidents are hard to dismiss, and it certainly helps that nearly every incident in the house was captured in some way, and the audio footage of firefighters running into the burning house is the type of evidence that just doesn’t exist on other cases.
Kaza gets involved early in the documentary, and the duo work together in a serious and natural manner, adding credence to the troubling nature of the haunting. While some may balk at the introduction of a psychic into a documentary that already has so much verifiable footage, Kaza adds her expertise and notions to the mix, and they fuel the mystery surrounding the brothers and an odd neighbor who may have played a significant role in the haunting.
Somewhat more distracting in Michigan Hell House is the use of a geoport, which basically looks like an old timey radio that emits echoes/spirit communication in a spooky-style voice. The old-fashion EVPs are more convincing and less theatrical, and the documentary is most engaging when it sticks to the historical documents and “classic” paranormal investigation techniques.
The recreations also stray into this realm with large demon faces in flames, which are a hallmark of any paranormal series or documentary. The majority of Michigan Hell House does more with first person interviews than produced scenes, and fans of ghostly phenomenon handled with a research-based approach will be happy with the overall result of the latest Shock Doc.
If you’d like to know more about Shippy and Kaza, be sure to check out our interview with them for their Ed Gein: The Real Psycho Shock Doc investigation right here.