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Shock Docs S01 E01 Devils Road The True Story Of Ed And Lorraine Warren Main

Shock Docs - Season 1, Episode 1: "Devil's Road: The True Story of Ed and Lorraine Warren" TV Episode Review

Written by Jeff Tolbert

Premiered on Travel Channel

shock docs s01 e01 devils road the true story of ed and lorraine warren poster large

Written by Brian Coughlin
2020, TV-14
Episode premiered on September 7th, 2020

Starring:
Ed Warren as himself
Lorraine Warren as herself

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Review:

Love it or hate it, James Wan’s Conjuring franchise has done much to spark new interest in the supernatural. It seems very likely that many younger viewers first learn about real-world (supposed) supernatural events like the Amityville haunting or the Enfield Poltergeist through Wan’s Conjure-verse. Even the Latinx legend of La Llorona has been absorbed into the franchise via the recent film, which features the priest character from the first Conjuring film (and a groan-worthy callback to the infamous Annabelle doll).

Via the Conjuring, the real-life figures of Ed and Lorraine Warren have gained (or more accurately, regained) a degree of mainstream notoriety seldom experienced by paranormal investigators these days. The first episode of Travel Channel’s new documentary series Shock Docs, "Devil's Road: The True Story of Ed and Lorraine Warren", coasts along in the wake of the films, presenting a TV-friendly summary of the Warren’s story replete with generic spooky sounds, fast cuts, and exaggerated special effects.

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There are some interesting biographical tidbits here. We learn a lot about the Warrens’ backgrounds, the manifestation of Lorraine’s purported psychic abilities in childhood, and the couple’s early incidental investigation at a place called the Ocean-Born Mary House in New Hampshire. Devout Catholics, the Warrens’ paranormal investigations were guided by their faith. The show includes previously unreleased footage of a supposed “exorcism” conducted by the Warrens—strange given that in the Catholic Church, exorcisms can only be performed by priests—and briefly discusses a court case involving a woman who had abandoned her rented home because she believed it to be haunted. Evidently the Warrens were called in as expert witnesses (the show isn’t clear on this point), and according to Ed in archival audio recordings, the defendant prevailed. Ed considered this to be a landmark case, setting a legal precedent by using “evidence” of the paranormal in a court of law. Unfortunately, virtually no further information is offered about the proceedings, a significant oversight since the case is framed as one of the Warrens’ most important. Naturally enough, the show also discusses the cases popularized by Hollywood, such as the Amityville case—and, to the surprise of no one, the Annabelle doll.

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Although Devil’s Road offers some interesting background and a useful smattering of archival recordings of the Warrens (Ed died in 2006; Lorraine in 2019), there’s little else of interest here beyond a superficial glimpse into the world of paranormal investigations that the Warrens helped create. Many of the talking heads are professional ghost hunters, including Jason Hawes of Ghost Hunters fame. Their presence speaks, in a limited way, to the culture of paranormal investigation—massively influenced as it’s been by popular culture—and reinforces the importance of the Warrens within this world. But Devil’s Road suffers immensely from Travel Channel’s typical hyperbolic, bombastic editing and effects, making it feel like so much prime-time schlock instead of the compelling history of a small but fascinating American subcultural phenomenon it could have been.

Die-hard fans of the Conjuring franchise will probably be gratified by the first episode of Shock Docs. Largely celebratory of the Warrens and their work, it will undoubtedly also appeal to other paranormal investigators. Outside those groups, there’s just not much to recommend.

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Grades:

Episode: 2 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US

About The Author
Jeff Tolbert
Staff Writer
Jeff studies folklore for a living (no, really) and digs the supernatural. He loves a good haunting, and really strongly recommends that everyone stop what they're doing and go play Fatal Frame right now.
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