More of the same transparent charlatan nonsense, although admittedly with a surprising midpoint highlight
The first season of Netflix’s Haunted was cynical, exploitative garbage. But it was also popular, so here we are with Haunted Season 2, all six episodes of which dropped on Netflix today. It’s more of the same charlatan nonsense with the occasional unexpected highlight, and we’ve already provided in-depth, spoilerific coverage of every episode (start by clicking these words). But here’s the spoiler-free lowdown for anyone who didn’t catch the first season and is curious, or did and wants to know how the second differs. Short answer: It doesn’t.
Comments piled up under my review of the first season. Some people were shocked that I complained about it being flagrantly untrue, as though I was spoiling their fun by doing so. I didn’t explain in the review — partly because I didn’t think I’d need to — but I’m well aware that most of the people who watch these shows know they’re fake. My point was, and remains, that the illusion of authenticity doesn’t do anything for the stories. It’s just annoying. The whole thing would work much better as an anthology of horror vignettes than it does as a real-life exposé, mostly because seemingly no effort has been made whatsoever to have these stories stand up to even cursory scrutiny.
But the other side of this argument is that, as the comment section proved, there are people who genuinely buy into this — at least one of them wished death by demon upon me. That’s where the exploitative aspect comes in. The more this is dressed up as fact, the more lunatics start demanding that critics go and sleep in the woods. It’s absurd. And more to the point it’s annoying. The practice is dishonest and ineffective, at best.
All of these criticisms apply to Haunted Season 2, but perhaps slightly less so. It’s still nakedly fraudulent, but its stories are less spectacularly outlandish in real-world terms, and one of them isn’t anything to do with the supernatural at all — it’s a surprisingly effective exploration of gay conversion therapy that builds to what I thought was a genuinely affecting conclusion. However, that’s only one episode of six. The rest range from utterly awful to mundane to potentially incendiary, depending on exactly how much truth it contains. The audience will likely be the same, comprised half of enthusiasts and half of cynical detractors. The dramatic reenactments remain slick but overdone and blighted by the occasional use of awful VFX, and the roundtable testimonies are mostly completely wooden or wildly over-the-top. This stuff is hardly moving the needle.
But it is, I suppose, giving people something to talk about, and if some of the details in any of these six half-hour episodes — Haunted Season 2 remains if nothing else welcomely brief — prompt a bit of idle Googling then fair enough, I suppose. But I’m afraid I won’t be swayed from my general belief that this kind of television is a giant waste of everyone’s time.