It’s been over a month ago since I first discovered The Blackwell Ghost streaming on Amazon Prime.  Honestly, I had passed it over in the suggestions menu several times, but it was one of those late nights where I wanted one last movie and this one was only an hour or so long.

The first interesting thing about this film is that it is described as a documentary.  In fact, there was no mention of this being a horror film or even found footage in any description I could find.

Now, I’m a paranormal enthusiast and have been an investigator for years, so I was further excited as the film began and the filmmaker in voiceover talked about his experiences making zombie movies in Los Angeles and how he’d decided to try something new.

In short, he wanted to make a documentary about the paranormal, and his interest had grown from a viral video that had made the rounds on YouTube of supposed actual paranormal phenomena caught on CCTV.

Over the next hour, I watched as the amateur documentarian went on his own adventure investigating a home in Pennsylvania.  Supposedly, in the 1940s, the home was owned by James and Ruth Blackwell.

Ruth had a reputation for being a bit strange, so it was no surprise to her neighbors when she was accused of murdering seven children and disposing of their bodies down the well in the basement.

Throughout the film, he never once wavers in his assertion that what he and his wife, Terri, are experiencing is actually real.  Furthermore, he backs up those claims with alleged researched proof of the history of the home.  I have to admit, by the end of the film I wasn’t entirely sure what to believe.  What I knew for sure was that it was a hell of a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Over the next couple of days, I watched the film five or six more times.  I showed it to local friends, and recommended it to others.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy it, but their reactions were the same across the board–they just weren’t sure they could believe what they were watching?

And really, who could blame them?

We live in a post Paranormal Activity world.  An era filled with technology where the line between reality and illusion seems to blur more and more every day, and while belief in the paranormal is actually growing, there’s a general certainty that we won’t find it on film.

Perhaps it was natural that my reporter’s sense kicked in at this point.  I chatted with our editor-in-chief here at iHorror and decided I needed to dig into the story of The Blackwell Ghost.

I began my search with attempting to discover who the filmmaker was.  He is not listed in the credits; however, he did include pictures of a couple of scenes from one of his zombie films.

I was able to match those scenes to a film called Disaster L.A., a low budget zombie flick from 2014.  The name of the filmmaker there was Turner Clay, but Clay is a total ghost online.  I found no actual pictures of him and so I could not verify that the man in the film was the man who made the movie.

After hitting a virtual dead end while tracking down information on Turner Clay, I turned my search to James and Ruth Blackwell in Pennsylvania in the 1940s,and I immediately got a hit on the names.  However, census records show the only James and Ruth Blackwell in Pennsylvania in the 1940s was a young African American couple.  James and Ruth in the film were not only white, but they were also a much older couple as evidenced by the picture of Ruth that the filmmaker displays in the film.

It was another dead end but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

I contacted Dr. Marie Hardin at Penn State University who put me in contact with Jeff Knapp at the Larry and Ellen Foster Communications Library.

Knapp spent a weekend digging into the library’s considerable resources and at the end of his research could find no mention of the murder I described in 1941 or the years surrounding it.

Furthermore, he could not find a James or Ruth Blackwell connected to a murder investigation at all in the time period. Finally, nowhere in the archives were there details of Detective Jim Hooper, a name I had pulled from a newspaper article the filmmaker displays in the movie.

With this information in hand, I sent a series of emails to the filmmaker via a third party in hope that he would make some time to talk to me.  As of this writing, none of those emails have been answered.

So, here I am, several weeks on with no definitive answers to my questions.  I have, however, whittled the possibilities down in my mind.

A. The filmmaker came up with as clever a plan for marketing a horror film as I’ve seen since The Blair Witch Project way back in the 1990s.  He filled his film with just the right kind of information to draw the viewer in and foster belief in his audience.  In which case, I say “Bravo, a job well done!”

OR

B. The filmmaker actually made a documentary and in the rarest of cases caught actual evidence on camera.  For whatever reasons, to protect his own identity or the descendants of those mentioned in the film, he decided to change the names and locations of the home and its sordid history.

At this time I personally lean toward my first explanation.  As I said in the beginning, I am a paranormal investigator and have spent a large part of my life pursuing those mysteries.  In other words to embrace the cliche, I WANT TO BELIEVE!

If you’re out there reading this, Mr. Clay, please reach out.  I’d love to discuss your movie.

In the meantime, fans of the paranormal or horror movies in general, I encourage you to check out the trailer for The Blackwell Ghost  below and stream it on Amazon Prime.

If you’ve seen the film, don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments!

10 COMMENTS

  1. I to love the paranormal! If I’m not watching a Horror movie, that including the paranormal sub-genre as well, I’m watching pretty much something involving ghosts, poltergeists, or demons etc. I’ve never heard of this one so I’m very eager to see it.

  2. My wife and I just recently watched this movie on Amazon Prime. After we heard the story of the history of the home, my wife and I just looked at each other, “typical horror movie back story.” Being a skeptic of the supernatural and my wife a firm believer in ghosts, we continued to watch.
    A little back story on wife, she to has seen ghosts, first time as a young child living in a former civil war home converted into apartments by the Chicamauga battlefield another time was when she was a little older living in her grandparents home in Red Bank, TN.
    I also thought this movie had a certain Blair Witch feel to it especially towards the end of the movie. I started to research the story of the former owner of the house and came across this website. Glad I did, now I don’t have to do any research it’s already been done. Thank you for saving me the trouble.

  3. Hey guys if you go on amazon prime and watch the Phoenix Tapes of 97 which you can’t really find a back story on! You will a guy on the fuzed supposed documentented footage that looks identical to the guy who is doing the documentary on the Blackwell ghost! Check it out dying to hear anyone else’s thoughts!

    • Dude, I just watched a little bit of it, and it’s TOTALLY the same guy from Blackwell Ghost. Hoax!! (But a damn good one) I got super creeped out by Blackwell, how about you?? Very Blair Witch-esque, which remains one of the scariest movies I’ve seen.

    • Bro, thank you for this… I just googled Phoenix Tapes of 97 and went to the Pictures and it really is the same guy, there’s even a picture of t he movie that shows him with the very same green/yellow hat that he wares in this movie… oh well, so much for thinking it was actually true.. I won’t deny, it was a hell of a good movie, much better than those with budgets of millions of dollars!

  4. Spoiler Alert***
    My wife and I just finished it. She is a filmmaker and thinks its fake, but very darn interesting to say the least. Has a lot of the cliche paranormal moments…glimpses of blurry figures as the camera pans across the room, unexpected open doors after just closing, and the biggest giveaway of all, the drawers in the kitchen suddenly wide open after just passing through the room. However, I’m a big time found footage nerd and I really liked this one, fake or not. Job well done I say!

  5. What I caught was that the tree to the left of the house seems to be the same size in the alleged 1940 photo as in the current one. It would seem that 70 years ago that tree would be much smaller. Hoax! Thoroughly enjoyed it, but in the end I realize it’s fake. Also, the wife’s knit hat seems like a sly homage to the female lead in The Blair Witch Project.

  6. It is a fun watch… great for Halloween or watching on a smartphone while camping. HOWEVER, several events seemed a bit scripted: 1) when they’re leaving the third morning with little or no evidence and the night before is when the entity goes bonkers 2) The woman’s name was Ruth Blackwell, as in the black well harboring dead children in the black basement 3) the initial presence of a dog should’ve been helpful if a ghost were causing trouble 4) no mention of change of temperature 5) leaving in face of evidence rather than staying to get more proof, perhaps getting some fellow paranormal detectives to come on over. Most ghosthunters would be camping there for a week or two. My daughter saw the complete materialization of Merle Wright, the dead husband of Idrose Wright who hired 24/7 nursing care before her death. He materialized at his desk in the basement once the temperature dropped 20 degrees. My daughter is now a geneticist, and this experience forever changed her life. They stared at each other quite awhile until, finally, he faded away and the basement warmed up. She says he was see-throughish. When my daughter explained to Idrose what she had seen, Idrose responded, “Oh that’s just Merle. He’s a good guy. He takes care of me.” At that time Merle had been dead around 35 years, and Idrose was closing in on 100. For those of you living along the Cedar Rapids, IA, Country Club, there’s a haunted house in your midst unless Merle left when Idrose died. Aside from his ghost, doors wouldn’t stay shut, furniture was moved and bats hung around the windows at night. The house was built from a Sears kit in the 1940s and still stands.

    • My grandmother, a very sensible, non imaginative woman, heard and saw my grandfather several times after he died in the years leading up to her own death.

      I think this movie was fake :::: but I still enjoyed it. It’s just what a ghost story should be. Creepy. I dozed off just after it ended and had a short little nightmare about being in a very large old house with the feeling that I wanted out- everyone else there was leaving yet every door I ran to slowly closed before I could get to it…I was trapped. So yeah, this one played on my mind!!

  7. Also, the main voice in the “haunted hotel” sounds just like the guy in the documentary, plus the guy going into the room is named John and looks a little like his real brother John. Coincidence? I think not.

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