If you heard a small-town family was terrorized by poltergeist activity, black magic and demonic possession, you’d probably assume it was Hollywood’s latest franchise-starter for the big screen, but you’d be wrong. All of these horrific acts haunted the Michigan Hell House, which was featured recently in Travel Channel’s Shock Docs television series.

In what’s being billed as “the greatest paranormal story you’ve never heard of,” the Pomeraning Brothers (Duane and Terry) tell their tale.

Way back on July 9th, 1974, after a run-in with a strange neighbor, their family home in Merrill, Michigan began experiencing unusual activity. What began with strange knockings on the walls, led to household items deliberately moving on their own, to explosions, disembodied voices, shadow figures and even spontaneous combustion.

Sounds too good to be true (more like BAD, very bad), but many of these events have been documented by authorities, as the police was called every day with reports of menacing activity from the summer of ’74 to the spring of ’75.

After 15 years, the locals are finally spilling their secrets. And there’s a long-lost audio recording by a parapsychologist, but this is no urban legend. Believe it or not.

Unexplained history absolutely fascinates me, which is only aided by eyewitness testimony from former neighbors and the two surviving family members in what is arguably the most well-documented paranormal case in history. For the longest time, one of the brothers was suspected of the mischief, especially after admitting to time loss when first approached by the neighbor. It’s only later that we learn about reported acts of witchcraft in the area that he may have unknowingly gotten involved with. Then there’s polygraph tests, a secret police stakeout on Halloween night and important information withheld from the Pomeranings.

The trauma is real; something ominous obviously terrorized this family almost 50 years ago and the storyline crafted here feels plausible. Relatively recent cases are good to study because there’s a decent chance some of the people involved are still alive and new clues can be discovered.

While I’m still not really a fan of this documentary series altering its format from 100 percent historical reporting to a modern-day examination by paranormal investigators, I did appreciate the hard work put in by Steve Shippy, who broke the case after more than 40 years of silence. Bringing in psychic medium Cindy Kaza helped fill in the blanks and hopefully bring some relief to the Pomeranings, even if the offender was never actually apprehended.

It’s good to see something positive come from reality shows exploring the unexplained, but this really is the exception, not the rule. Too many times the paranormal provocateurs only rile up activity once they leave the property, causing more harm than help to those affected, all in the name of ratings. I’ve been alarmed by the real-life actions behind these “reality” programs more times than not, but I’m still intrigued to see what Shippy and Kaza can uncover next.

I’m looking forward to the next Shock Docs offering. Hopefully, the investigators will prove successful, once more.