Dead Northern 2023 Review- Haunted Ulster Live

From the director of the award-winning short Belfast 1912 is Dominic O’Neill’s blast to the past Haunted Ulster Live, an epically spooky venture into a television broadcast gone wrong. 

On the night of All Hallows Eve 1998, seasoned TV personality Gerry Burns (Mark Claney) joins forces with children’s presenter Michelle Kelly (Aimee Richardson) to solve the ghostly occurences in a Belfast family home. After the live seance goes array, the set is turned into pure mayhem, resulting in an abduction that leaves Gerry and Michelle to face with their worst nightmares. 

Anyone and everyone will remember that shocking night on the 31st of October 1992, when we saw the likes of Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene, Craig Charles, and Mike Smith succumb to the most horrific paranormal activities. Or at least that’s what we were made to believe. Ghostwatch’s iconic nationwide prank of a faux on-air seance has gone down in history as one of the most beloved hoaxes that fooled and startled an entire nation. However, now 31 years later, Ghostwatch finally meets its match with Haunted Ulster. 

This mockumentary broadcast is the epitome of a riveting experience from start to finish, guiding us by the hand as O’Neill takes us on a cinematic ghost ride brimming with chilling exploits and a barrel of laughs to match. Every scene is met with a perfectly paced step further into the exciting happenings, with Gerry and Michelle being thrown through the rings as they delve deeper into the strange mysteries, leading to quite the finale that takes us through the realm of senses, leaving us anxious to the core.

 The bursting suspense is attributable to the diegetic lens in the form of a miraged mockumentary-televised special that meets found footage feature, with O’Neill weaponising the inherently eerie nature of the firsthand camera to create a riptide of believability that truly mimics our sense of reality in the most sinister of manners. The self-reflexivity does not stop there, as the film is flush with a corpus of socially aware themes. Haunted Ulster’s Northern Irish setting, particularly with its 1998 timeframe, was rife with the fallbacks and tragedies from The Troubles, leaving the landscape haunted by socio-cultural ghosts. Whilst the film chills with its paranormal backdrop, there is a commendable undercurrent of politically conscious events that panic us on a whole other level. 

Haunted Ulster’s expressive descent into harrowing antics makes for an uncanny experience rampant with plenty of Halloween-themed zest that creates the perfect spooky-season must watch!

Check out the full festival programme and get your tickets here!!

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