Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Oklahoma Filmmaker Looks Beyond The White Sheet To Find What Really Haunts

Spellbound stories received a heads up about this documentary, shot by Norman, OK filmmaker David Burkhart. In the feature-length film (of which only a portion can be viewed here), Burkhart attempts to examine not only the mechanics of a now-nototious haunting at the University of Oklahoma, but larger existential themes surrounding death, fear, and loss.

While Burkhart's cinematography is commendable, the editing is a bit abrupt at times and his self-narration seems to affect a hoarser, deeper register that walks a thin line between promising documentary and any given episode of Weird Travels. Together with a subtle score comprised of little more than plodding notes from the piano and a haunting synth harmony, the narration takes on an almost Carteresque aspect reminiscent of early X-Files.

All in all, I was impressed with the potential this film demonstrates. Its rough, but nonetheless apparent, artistry is what sets it apart from so many paranormal documentaries that take their cues from Ghost Hunters or any of the litany of shows found on the History or Travel channels.

However, what most impressed me was hearing how Burkhart abandoned his first impulse of a straight documentary on a haunted location and those who investigate such things (namely Oklahoma City Ghost Club) for a more personal look at the greater themes of life and death. Noting early on in the film that his own father's passing profoundly affected him, it is easy to understand his desire to not only contemplate the existence of life beyond death but to physically face his fears regarding it by filming his solo stay in OU's haunted Cate Center.

While still in production, Burkhart's teaser on YouTube is bound to cultivate an audience eager for its release as a feature length film that will invariably tour local and regional film festivals and hopefully find distribution.

If you would like to read more about the Cate Center haunting, may I [insert shameless plug] recommend purchasing a copy of my book, wherein I examine the events surrounding this ghostly locale?

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