Steven ‘Prozak’ Shippy and his team of ghost sleuths investigate the historic Hoyt Library in Saginaw Michigan. With a history spanning over 130 years, the Hoyt boasts one of the largest literary collections in the state of Michigan. Once used to house and execute convicts, the building also has a history of more than one person dying in the library itself, and according to staff and patrons alike, may also be home to a variety of restless spirits. Shippy and his team are the first crew given permission to investigate the 40,000 square foot structure from top to bottom.
A Haunting at the Hoyt Library is an American paranormal investigative documentary, and is the sixth entry (of ten) in Steven Shippy’s “A Haunting” series of paranormal documentaries, focusing on a collection of reportedly haunted buildings and locations in and around Saginaw, Michigan, because apparently that area is filled with more than its fair share of ghosts (as opposed to the area where I live, where there is a grand total of ZERO (No, I’m not bitter. Why would you think that?)). Anyway, in this episode the team spends time wandering around the Hoyt Library, a fully functional, gothic looking building instead of a derelict, Victorian-designed train station, as seen in Potter Street. But just because the location is frequented by people, doesn’t mean that the location is any less creepy. It just means there’s more stuff to look at and more stories of ghosts to dig through. Though made by the same people, this entry was created three years after Potter Street, and it’s clear that they’ve worked some of the more annoying kinks out of their process, and polished up their presentation a bit, but that doesn’t mean it managed to escape without any flaws.
Here ghosty, ghosty, ghosty…
The first notable improvement lies in the music and editing. In Potter Street the viewer was forced to re-watch each piece of evidence three consecutive times (and often at progressively slower frame rates). Considering that that particular film was really only a little over an hour long, I suspect that particular decision may have been made in part to help pad out the runtime. But despite clocking in at an even shorter time, around 66 minutes, the Hoyt doesn’t suffer from the same padding. At MOST you get two replays, but oftentimes what’s happening on screen is so obvious that they blissfully limit you to one viewing, so you’re given a chance to focus on other things, and not forced to see (or in some cases not see) the same thing over and over again.
This is Prozak at his most dapper…
The other change is the music. Shippy had a hand in editing both Potter Street and Hoyt, but it would seem that some time between the two films’ release, someone took away his computer and deleted all his bombastic tension sting sound effects. Gone is the booming – Dom DOM! – around every corner or during every evidentiary reveal. There is still some tense music of course, I fully expected it to be there, but it’s now MUCH more subtle, and complements the flow of the film better, rather than the explosive sound effects they’d used earlier.
Makes sense, you have to be quiet in a library.
Visually, the movie is about what you would expect. There are some exterior shots intermingled with the various interiors. The beginning has some interviews with eyewitnesses, historians and employees at the library, and Shippy and crew show us where things are set up and how the investigation is going to go. Despite being shot in the dark, the film is pretty clear as far as picture quality is concerned. Most of the film may be shot in infrared, but they use good equipment, so barring the occasional blurred shot because the camera refused to focus, everything looks pretty crisp and clear.
Paranormal evidence-wise, compared to Potter Street, I think this film fared a bit better in that department too. Gone are the attempts of trying to pass off what are clearly bugs, as ghosts, and the film essentially cuts back on the use of EVP (electronic voice phenomenon), that you can barely hear, assuming you could hear it at all, by about 95%. In fact, it’s only used about twice during the entire film. Instead, the film focuses more on the crew, as it actually encounters strange phenomena that they can hear and see, as opposed to just things being caught on camera when no one is around (though that’s there too). There are still a couple of instances where their evidence could easily be explained away by outside factors, such as the storm outside affecting the lighting and the computers turning on and off. Hell, that last one could actually have been caused by one of those obnoxious Windows updates. I know my computer’s scared me more than once with that nonsense, and I’m fairly certain my house isn’t haunted. But some of the stuff they show does end up being pretty creepy, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that it’s genuine, and not some dude screwing with us just out of camera range.
“And here’s where the creepy ghost children sit and wait to be read to…”
Overall, I’d say A Haunting at the Hoyt Library is a decent paranormal investigative flick. It gives you a nice overview of the location, doesn’t overstay its welcome, and actually shows you some stuff that you can actually see and hear without having to use your imagination. It’s ending also isn’t as overly dramatic or abrupt as it was in Potter Street, which immediately makes it a better film in my book. It’s not perfect, and there’s still at least one instance where you can’t see what it is they’re trying to show you, but in general, it’s pretty good. If you like these types of movies or shows, then feel free to give this one a go. But if you’re the cynical type, then there won’t be anything here that’ll change your mind.
A Haunting at the Hoyt Library is available to stream via Amazon Prime.
As far as I can tell, none of these films have been given a physical release.