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Indiana (Fantasia 2017)

Supernatural 'hunter' shows and blogs of every description have been popular for a while now. Technology can make anyone into a hunter of ghosts, or at least a reporter of ghosts, since everyone has a camera. But I think it's also because that same technology -- yes, even the internet -- has made people feel more isolated. Having lots of distant friends can be a painful reminder that one is without any nearby friends, and it can be difficult to change that. Feeling alone and helpless day after day is a recipe for bad things to happen, and a fervent belief that your attic has ghosts is one of the more harmless results.

In Indiana -- and yes, I believe they are literally in Indiana -- Michael (Gabe Fazio) and his friend Josh (Bradford West), call themselves Spirit Doctors. They specialize in demonic removals and all manner of help with supernatural problems, including human ghosts and UFO violations. The latter is basically possession by an alien, but they never explain the former and I wish they had. Assisted at times by Josh's teenage son Peter (Noah McCarty) they investigate these phenomena, though it's hard to say how serious any of them are.

Josh seems to believe genuinely enough and likes to feel he's accomplishing something, but his approach is haphazard and surprisingly low-tech, relying on handmade crosses and apparently doing whatever feels right at the time. Peter just thinks it's a cool way to spend time with his dad. Michael is still adjusting after the loss of his wife (Sophie Auster), however, and wants nothing more than to get out of the business, though he's having a difficult time finding the chance to say as much.

Then they stumble across a creepy abandoned house, which might easily have fallen over already except for the fact that it's almost entirely boarded up. Despite there being no obvious way in or out, the neighbor insists that a woman is living there. When they meet Sam (Stuart Rudin), they're well and truly caught up in a mystery unlike any they've solved before -- or maybe it isn't so different after all.

Indiana has a restrained, realistic sort of suspense -- Fazio's quiet performance as Michael reminded me somewhat of Willem from Man Underground, both excellent portrayals of men struggling to rebuild their lives after loss. In this case, Michael's life is still tangled up with his Spirit Doctor escapades, forcing him out of his shell sometimes, and Josh is very much the best friend, with a distinct knack for keeping Michael from taking himself too seriously. It's almost a buddy ghost hunter movie, odd as that might sound, and it's also four out of five stars' worth of a fascinating look at the people and personalities behind the hauntings.

The best thing about psychological horror is that when it's done well you might never be entirely sure whether anything supernatural was going on or not. That's what happens here, with most of the mysterious events filtered through the voices of the characters who experienced them. You can believe or not, as you choose, but for Michael, at least, it's less about finding the truth and more about finding what's true enough for you.

Movie poster. Believe it or not.


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