For those of you who haven't watched Haunted or Hoax yet, I really don't know what you're waiting for. For those of you who have, well done.
The first episode premiered on May 27 and picked up exactly where the trailer left us last; which was with a very curious Casey (Isabel Kanaan) looking to investigate the mysterious Grantham House with her friend Jac (Sydney Kondruss).
The second you press play, the theme song immediately sets the tone for the series. It reminded me a lot of the first few bars of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme song, and from there things really take flight. Right off the bat we see Casey, extremely eager and bubbly for someone knocking on the door of a supposed haunted house. Jac on the other hand is pretty mellow about the situation and you can hear in her voice she's a bit hesitant as to why Casey's so adamant on investigating the house, yet she's still there. Ultimate BFF for the win!
After a few unanswered knocks, Casey finally relents on trying to get inside the house and goes with Jac to shoot the opening for their vlog, HauntedorHoax.com (a very real website that gives you more information on the web series and really cool BTS content). Watching the episode for the first time, I asked myself the same question many of you probably did: Why the hell is Casey trying to investigate the damn house? Well to my surprise and delight, we find out in the very same episode!
Eighteen months ago, before Casey's father passed away, he reveals his research on the Grantham House to his daughter. As it turns out Casey is the great, great, great, great niece of John and Emily Grantham, the first inhabitants of the home. Yep, Casey's got some weird, eerie connection to the house!
With Jac behind the camera documenting every minute for their vlog, Casey takes to being a news anchor (very well might I add) and proceeds to tell us the beautiful love story of how John built the Grantham House for his wife. However, their happily ever after was brought to a brutal end in 1898 when the two were shot to death in their living room, along with their housekeeper and cook.
DUN. DUN. DUN.
The deaths rocked the community and the murder remains unsolved, with the Grantham killer never being found. According to Casey, the townspeople have their suspicions, which I hope come up later on. By now you'd think it probably couldn't get any worse, but it does. Since the deaths of the original owners, the house, as Casey puts it, "has been plagued by death." Do you have chills yet?
So what are Casey and Jac doing there you ask? They're there to uncover whether or not the Grantham House is truly haunted or if it's just a bit of hocus pocus. It took some arm twisting and a bit of begging, but Casey was able to convince the current owner of the home to grant them access to play detectives.
Cue Ellia (Natasha Negovanlis), the stoic and quiet homeowner of the Grantham House who clearly is spooked by it as well. It's no secret that she's less than thrilled about having guests there. And you know what else is no secret? The way Casey throws some serious heart eyes at Ellia and I can't really blame her for it either!
The first episode ends with Ellia leading our pair of investigators into the home. I'm not sure if most picked up on this, but I love the placement of the final shot of the three actors. In front you have Ellia, her expression filled with what looks like frustration, most likely from having guests, but also fear, for what exactly we don't quite know yet. Next there's Casey, clearly amped and ready to dive into this project. She seems a bit naive, but I think there's almost something beautiful in her innocence and desire to learn more. Lastly, we have Jac. Right off the bat I had a crush on her character. There's something so charming about the fact that despite her annoyance with Casey and this crazy project of hers, she's still there for her friend.
For me, I felt the most moved by the end. There's so much being said by the actors' expressions that really bring the characters to life. Part of me is hoping that by the end of the series they'll all be wearing completely different expressions, a sign of their characters being transformed in one way or another.
In such a short amount of time, the first episode really sheds light on the brilliant writing from creator Natalie Forward and the amazing screen presence the actors bring to the table. Many of you are familiar with Negovanlis from her role as Carmilla in the web series, Carmilla and Kondruss from her role as Janice in the web series, MsLabelled. As for Kanaan, she's starred in her share of theatre productions and shorts and by her performance in the first episode, I have no doubt of her ability to bring this character to life.
And holy crap, the cinematography! I love the way that certain moments are filmed from Jac's POV as she records Casey and how others are way too close for comfort. It very much mimics the style of some old school horror films, yet it doesn't feel forced and adds another element to the spookiness of the series.
I hope you guys enjoyed the first episode as much as I did and tune in for more! New episodes air every Monday and Friday at 4:30 PM EST. Make sure to follow and subscribe and be on the lookout for our episodic recaps!