And I’ve seen ’em all, or at least a few episodes of every one of these series which happens to blare across my television screen in the late afternoon hours as I try to get some time in on my exercise bike. It was by this chance misfortune that I am able to review Amish Haunting for you, the latest and greatest paranormal-themed show from that treasure trove of goodies that are not good enough to make the Discovery Channel. Yes, the graveyard of sub-par entertainment reality known as Destination America. In order for me to adequately describe Amish Haunting, I would need a thesaurus and a glass—no, a bottle—of Johnnie Walker Red. Especially if I had to watch an episode in its entirety, as the shows slaves away and harps on centuries old traditions of evil within the seemingly peaceful Amish culture, located mainly in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and parts of Ohio. This show, which comes on with a tour-de-force opening credits and disclaimer, giving it the illusion of being something groundbreaking, is a laughable, disgusting mess that fails to scare, except by way of how terrifying the acting is. These are the ghost stories from within the Amish community, we are told. The ones you would not hear while sitting down for a $7.99 country breakfast at Diener’s Buffet in Ronks. The opening credits mention how such chilling tales have always existed, but only now are the Amish ready to tell their story! But wait, there’s more!
Now, I am no expert on the Amish, but as someone who has visited Lancaster nearly every year since I was in the womb, I know pretty much the basics. This show is laden with interviews of “authentic” Amish people, telling their stories of terror, yes, on camera. The first “rule of thumb” when vacationing to Amish country is that it is against their religion to be photographed or appear on camera. It must be done in a way that their faces cannot be seen. They are not even allowed to look in the mirror. So, this series, in which the basis of almost every episode is evil spinning out of control in an Amish household due to them messing with something “modern”, is to have them appear on camera to tell their story! Isn’t that brilliant? No, I have a better idea, the people on camera are not really Amish. But doesn’t that just take away from the “authentic” feel of the show?
The other part of the opening disclaimer is a little line that says something to the effect of, “The identities have been changed to protect these people from retribution within their community”. Well, how in the hell is that possible, considering none of them own televisions? How is anyone in the Amish community going to find out that Sally Lapp spilled the beans on the demon residing in cousin Amos’ toy wooden buggy on Destination America last night? None of this ever seems to make sense in these episodes, but the producers do not care, especially with one of the interviewees saying, “We cannot discuss the paranormal in our community for fear of being shunned”. Oh, really? So, let’s go on national television instead? The producers tried to make this as authentic as possible. The actors speak high German, meaning not only do I have to trudge my way through the most God-awful fake beards known to man (no doubt purchased on the clearance rack at a seasonal Halloween store), but now I have to stare intently at the screen reading the entire episode just to know what the hell is going on.
To give you an idea of some of the lunacy of these age-old, traditional ghost stories (all set in modern times), they usually start out with a member of the Amish community doing something he or she is not supposed to, such as playing with something modern. The “English”, as we are referred to as by our Amish brethren, are the constant culprit, always enhancing the already prevalent evil that is waiting to capture the Lapps, Yoders, Kings, and every other name you can find on a furniture store or buffet in Lancaster County, and unleash a Satanic supernatural splendor upon their innocent lives. In one story, an English neighbor gives a doll to a child. That opens the door to demonic infestation, which brings back the spirit of a dead bishop to violently attack the child’s father. Another instance involves an Amish man purchasing a house with electricity, again, causing him to be attacked by demons. If that was not enough, an elderly Amish man visits a faith healer because of his ailing back, and not only does he become possessed by evil and eventually dies, but returns from the grave every year to take vengeance on the community by killing at least one person. Have I lost you yet?
To think that any current and active member of the Amish community would happily allow the filmmakers of this deplorable tabloid trash into their homes to collect stories and to film is ridiculous to say the least. The Amish do not regularly give interviews or help with projects that portray them in a good, peaceful light, much less a series like this, where they are seen as stereotypical, backwards, stupid caricatures of a bygone era. Anything modern they touch causes demons to wreak havoc on their lives, which is quite perplexing, because the conundrum apparently does not extend to money! Lots and lots of money! You know, that thriving industry known as tourism which fuels their community, where they interact every single freakin’ day of their lives (except Sundays, of course) with us evil “English”? By this show’s logic, both the Amish and us Satan-worshiping modern spewing fountains of sin should all be walking around with heads spinning, eyes rolling, and casting magic spells from our fingertips, striking down and killing all the God-fearing Amish men, women, and children that we lay eyes on.
That is how Amish Haunting makes me feel. This is a total disgrace to the Amish community, both locally in Lancaster, and as a whole. The producers should be ashamed of themselves for thinking that this show is not only scary and entertaining, but authentic. No matter how they spin it, you can easily see right through it all if you look hard enough. Even if the show was good, I am hard-pressed to find a reason for even needing such a series. What happened, was there a shortage of exorcisms for Destination America’s other mounds of refuse like A Haunting, Ghost Stalkers, and Ghost Asylum? How about a need for additional stupidity not fully satisfied by watching Monsters and Mysteries in America, Swamp Monsters, Alaska Monsters, Beasts of the Bayou, Monsters Underground, Boogeymen, and Alien Files? Yes, these are all real shows! Amish Haunting is just another one in the pile that makes me shake my head and ask why. What happened to decent television? We may never know—perhaps it was possessed by a demon and carried off to hell, like almost everything else on this network.