Evans Vestal Ward, Syfy
“Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files” returns Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Syfy with its spring premiere episode, “The Grim Sleeper/The Real Mr. Freeze.”
In this episode, the “Fact or Faked” team takes on the case of a woman being levitated off her bed while she sleeps, as well as the case of the world famous “Ice Man” and his superhuman ability to withstand extreme cold temperatures.
The show features a team of specialists, led by Utah native and former FBI agent Ben Hansen, who search for what they consider to be the most intriguing cases of paranormal activity caught on camera. Each episode begins with the team gathering in its “situation room” and reviewing a handful of videos or images, each brought in by a different team member. Team members give input on the videos, and two are eventually chosen for further investigation. They then set out to determine if the selected videos are real evidence of the paranormal, or if they’ve been faked.
In Tuesday’s episode, the team chooses the case of the “Levitating Woman.” After waking up with mysterious bruises on her legs, an Atlanta woman has a camera set up to film her as she sleeps. The resulting video footage shows her entire body lifting mysteriously off the bed.
This sort of case is standard fare for the “Fact or Faked” team, and most of them are suspicious of its validity from the beginning. Selected team members are sent to the site of the occurrence, speak to the woman and the homeowner and then set about trying to re-create the video using nonparanormal means. Eventually, the team arrives at a definitive conclusion on whether the video was real or faked.
The team also takes the case of the famed “Ice Man,” Wim Hof, who seems to possess the paranormal ability to withstand extreme cold. They show footage of Hof running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle wearing only a pair of shorts and a beanie. They also show him standing inside a glass tank filled with ice up to his neck. In neither circumstance does Hof suffer any ill effects from the exposure.
Selected members of the “Fact or Faked” team put themselves to the test to determine the limits of human endurance, with their investigation eventually culminating in a head-to-head trial of endurance between Hof and the team’s stunt expert, Austin Porter. Again the team is able to arrive at a definitive conclusion regarding whether they consider Hof’s abilities to be paranormal or not. Some viewers might find the result surprising.
While “Fact or Faked” can be entertaining for some, one must question whether its fundamental premise, and perhaps the premise of most paranormal investigation shows, isn’t inherently flawed. Given the extent of modern technology, is there anything that can’t be faked? And just because a situation can be re-created, does that mean it wasn’t real? Viewers might also question whether something that is simply unusual can really be considered paranormal.
“Fact or Faked” is not a show that will convince anyone one way or another. Believers in the supernatural will still believe, and skeptics will still be skeptical. It does, however, offer clean and family-friendly entertainment, though some of the case videos may seem disturbing to more sensitive viewers.
And while the show offers little in the way of intellectual stimulation, viewers looking for a simple hour of paranormal-related entertainment might factually find it with “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files.”
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