A few minutes into Kim Hill's 30th June Radio NZ interview with Jemaine Clement, Hill says, "...You may have packed all the jokes into the first episode." Clement replies, "No, I think the later episodes are funnier. The first episode's the one where we're trying to find the tone of it. And I think the later ones are the ones, to me, that I think I enjoy more. Also we spent more time on the first one to try to get it right, to find that tone, you know - how funny it should be, how scary it should be."
Having just watched the first episode, I hope the above quote is correct. The low-key Kiwi style of humour established in Flight of the Conchords and carried into What We Do in the Shadows, where it contrasted nicely with the bizarre events, has been maintained. The characters and situation have now been set up, and the theme of the first episode is demonic possession. So, from the Episode 2 promo showing crop circles, we can guess successive episodes will each concentrate on one of the major themes of the paranormal. Expect one of each on UFOs, ghosts, the undead, lycanthropes, maybe some type of cult, or something around cryptozoology. Dying to find out where Cheeseface fits in.
I loved the Wellington Police Station's secret, concealed Paranormal Office. Funnily enough, Strange Occurrences has a similar office, just a little smaller. I'm currently relocating it, otherwise I'd post a piccy to prove the claim.
Like anything well-promoted these days, there have been many trailers for Wellington Paranormal. Your average horror movie can have a trailer of maybe seven minutes, so by the time you get to the movie you've already seen most of the best bits, and many of the jump-scares loose their jump; you're just waiting for the billed scene to arrive. Such is the case with Wellington Paranormal. It's a half-hour commercial slot so the show has around 23 minutes of content between ad breaks. We've already seen much of it before its broadcast debut.
WP is shot in the style of a Police reality show, a la Police Ten 7. There were so many references to other movies and TV series it would be tedious to name them, but X-Files was prominent, and (in this episode) The Exorcist movie. I get the copious vomiting, but it reminded me more of Peter Jackson's first feature film, Bad Taste, in which the alien character Robert (played by Jackson) vomits continuously into a huge bowl to provide a meal for his fellow aliens. (Having a stomach bug today, watching this YouTube clip of it is doing me no good at all.)
Watching WP with my wife Denise (also an experienced paranormal investigator), our first mutual LOL moment was the Cuba Mall Bucket Fountain scene. This is near the end of the episode. I remember encountering the CMBF as a child, when it had just been erected. You do stand there entranced until the big bucket at the bottom eventually tips. Although Cuba St can feel pretty scary at times, it never occurred to me there was anything sinister about the Bucket Fountain. Until now. You can bet people will be seen counting the buckets to see if there actually are 13 of them. (The CMBF even has its own Wikipedia page, and was probably the most photographed sculpture in the Capital until Neil Dawson's fern sculpture, suspended above Civic Square, knocked it off its perch.)
Enough of this aside. I can say with confidence that the ending of this episode is much better thought out and executed than the ending of the recent movie Hereditary. But I wonder if the ineptitude of the Police characters will remain constant throughout the series, or if they will develop. If they don't develop, it's going to get frustrating as the humour milked from their collective incompetence runs thin. Still, I can't wait till next Wednesday night.
is a blog by James Gilberd - leader and co-founder of Strange Occurrences. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Strange Occurrences team.
James Gilberd is an amateur paranormalist, writer and musician, and a professional photographer, living in Wellington, New Zealand.