Season 5, episode 5: “Zozo”
Directed by Matthew Catling
[All photos courtesy of Syfy unless they are GIFs]
Read our prior recaps here.
To kick things off, this episode opens with the ominous line, “There are hundreds of demons reported by many different religions all over the world, but the most commonly reported is the Zozo.” (Not Bozo. Though clowns are, in fact demonic. Just ask South Carolina).
We are introduced to veteran Garry Hodges, who has returned from being deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. Although he is back in Oklahoma, Gary struggles with PTSD. Heather, his girlfriend, is Garry’s support system. She has a daughter, Caitlin, from a previous relationship. Garry also has two younger brothers, Westly and Kevin, with whom he is very close.
Garry is offered a job with a phenomenal salary and great benefits, but he has to move. His brothers don’t want him to leave again, and neither have ties to the area, so Kevin and Westly (and Westly’s girlfriend Sabrina) move with him to Lawton, OK. Garry has to find a large house fast, because everyone else involved in this move is evidently incapable of looking for housing.
Luckily, he finds a tenant who is breaking his lease to leave early! No one worries too much about why he might be leaving because otherwise the episode would be much shorter. The house looks rather shabby and seems to be the one that isn’t kept up in the neighborhood. He talks to the current tenant, whose hand is trembling, and doesn’t respond when asked why he doesn’t want to live there. This is definitely normal, non suspicious behavior.
The house itself is huge, there is plenty of space. Garry goes upstairs, but the tenant opts not to follow him and stays at the bottom of the stairs. Something seems off to Garry. All of the lights are on in the second story, even in the closet.
Garry says he’s interested and wants to head to the realtor’s office right away. The man comes out with two trash bags, throws them in his vehicle, and drives off. Garry is “a bit concerned”. At this point in the show, so am I.
Later, on move-in day, Garry is in the master bedroom. After spending two years in a war zone, Garry knows when someone is behind him. Westly jumps out of the closet and scares the man with PTSD like a total sleazebag.
They are in the living room watching TV one night when they hear a “thump thump thump” up above. They think someone could be breaking in because it is too heavy to be Caitlin. They make Garry go, since he is ex-Army (and they are jerks). He hears several more footsteps (like a grown man’s footsteps) and he starts feeling uncomfortable. If I had an espresso shot every time Garry has “felt uncomfortable” so far, I would have already hit “frantically cleaning every part of the kitchen” levels of caffeination.
Later that night, he and Heather are getting ready to go to bed when the closet light turns itself on.They turn it off again. In the middle of the night, the light turns itself back on and the door swings open.
Garry wakes up and sees the door open and wakes up Heather, and both ask if the other is messing with them. The next day, he asks Westly and Kevin if they are messing with him and they deny it.
A few days later, Heather and Garry go to bed early because Garry has a big meeting tomorrow. Their door creaks open and something approaches their bed. They feel pressure push the bed down as if somebody is sitting on the bed, but there is no one there. Garry says he has had enough of this crap and wakes up Kevin and Westly to ask if they have been in his room, which is honestly a fair assumption because seriously they are the WORST.
Both man-children are clearly asleep. After checking everything, Garry gets really concerned. The light in their closet turns on and they see a shadow walking back and forth in the closet. Garry is scared but goes to check it out. There is nothing there. Unnerved by all of this, they walk downstairs to sleep on the couch. In the kitchen, a glass is thrown off a table and shatters.
Tensions continue to rise in the house. Garry starts getting angry, losing sleep, and is annoyed even by the sounds of his brothers loudly eating, or not doing dishes immediately. (Raise your hand if you think you are haunted because you also hate these things? Everyone? I rest my case.) In the middle of one of their arguments, a glass flies across the room and shatters. Westly and Kevin believe now believe there is something wrong in the house.
They hear footsteps when they are downstairs again and all go up together and search every room but find nothing. When they return downstairs, all of the drawers and cabinets are wide open!!!
With demons trying to steal his DVDs and hating on his dishware, Garry is stressed to the max. He decides to get a nice soothing shower because he has never seen the movie Psycho. While he is in the shower, a banging sound starts coming from the ceiling. Garry has a sudden burning sensation on his back. Right across his back, there are 3 claw marks. Garry starts fearing for his life.
Kevin is upset something is attacking his brother. They have invested everything they had in the deposits for the place, so it would be financially devastating to leave. Garry is pissed that even after Iraq, he’s still not safe.
Kevin is reading on his bed when he hears the thump-thump-thump of someone coming up the stairs, but finds no one in the hallway. He figures it is the house creaking and lays down to go to sleep. He hears a noise in the hallway and it feels like something is coming in his room. There is suddenly a figure next to his bed and he screams. The figure is abruptly gone. Kevin runs downstairs and seeing him that scared throws up a red flag for the others (because apparently Kevin being wigged out is more emotionally affecting than Garry having CLAW MARKS ON HIS BACK BUT WHATEVER GUYS THAT’S FINE).
Garry and Westly go to investigate. They, unlike literally every other person on this show, have the good sense to take knives. Large ones. They go into Kevin’s room. His light is flickering terrifyingly, but otherwise there is nothing. Garry feels like he is chasing a shadow. Garry sees Caitlin’s door slowly shut. He opens it and finds nothing, but hears a tapping sound and notices a word written in condensation on the window: Zozo. It is on the second story and written on the outside of the window, so there is no way someone could be pranking them.
He starts researching and finds the Dictionaire Infernale, a 19th c. textbook on demons. He finds an entry for Zozo, who turns out to be a demon. It brings death, suicide, ill will, bad luck, and has a traumatic effect on your family. Neat! Garry finds out it is heavily associated with ouija boards and decides to use one to communicate with it.
They make one using poster board and all put one finger apiece on a shot glass. The first couple of minutes nothing happens, and then a really cold breeze hits the room. The shot glass starts to move. It starts going Yes and No, back and forth. Garry starts to ask questions, but gets no response. When Heather asks, “What is your name?” it spells out Zozo. When Garry asks what it wants, it spells out “Kill” and “Garry”. They hear footsteps like something is pacing around. They do what they SHOULD have done in the first place and burn the board.
For about a week, they experience nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone is getting sleep. Then out of nowhere they hear heavy stomping. The boys go upstairs to investigate and call the thing out. They peek in Garry’s room and see a massive black demonic horned figure pacing back and forth. Westly says “What the hell is that?” and the thing starts charging toward them. Damn it, Westly! You continue to be the worst.
They run down the stairs and say the thing is coming and that they have to get out. Garry gets mad and yells “come down the damn stairs, I’m not scared anymore”.
Heather goes to take Caitlin and leave, but the doors slam shut. They hear the thing walking down stairs ominously slowly and on the bottom step it growls. They can see the demonic shape, which is a horned thing that looks like a bull walking on two legs. Garry yells, “Get out of here!” and the thing shatters all the glasses in the room and then launches them at Garry like a wall of knives. He ducks, and manages to avoid getting hit because his fancy new job is maybe being a ninja.
He says, “We’re going.” During the moving out montage, it is heavily implied that relationships between the brothers have been strained since this experience and that, “the house changed everybody”.
I can’t quite put my finger on why, but something about this episode was less fun and campy than those previously. Maybe I am just spectacularly spoiled following the glorious farce that was “The Contract” (you can read all about my love affair with that episode here), or maybe it just isn’t funny watching a veteran with PTSD going through yet another traumatic experience. Maybe Westly and Kevin were just too jerk-ish for me to get on board, but this episode definitely fell more on the “heavy and spooky” side than the “fun and ridiculous”.
And you know what? That is okay by me. Sometimes you need a few episodes that are really just there to send chills up your spine, and the special effects and tension-building in this episode definitely accomplished that. The pop-outs and looming figures in the background lead to not a small amount of screaming from my sofa.
Paranormal Witness runs Wednesday nights at 10/9c on Syfy, and is available to view on Syfy’s website.
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