A historic six bedroom, four and a half bathroom, multi-level with hardwood floors and custom woodwork, the house is for sale by the owner, medical student Megan Donovan who inherited it when her grandfather died, a desirable property in which she sits alone on a rainy night, studying anatomy and surgery as the pendulum clock ticks and the power flickers.
Images from a bygone age of cutting and stitching under primitive anaesthesia enough to give even a good girl nightmares, Megan is struggling to stay in the house let alone make it an attractive prospect to a buyer, but real estate agent Luke Roman already has his eye on the property, aware of the strange history of the house on Maple Valley Road and keen to gain access.
Created by George Olson, SurrealEstate is a supernatural drama with more than a scare of self-aware comedy about, carried on the broad shoulders of Vagrant Queen’s Tim Rozon as Luke Roman, assisted by Phil Orley (Adam Korson), a former priest now performing background checks and due diligence, Aleister Crowley-quoting tech support August Ripley (Maurice Dean Wint) and office manager Zooey L’Enfant (Savannah Basley).
“Specialists in Metaphysically Engaged Properties,” the Roman Agency prefer the term “stigmatised properties” to the more traditional “haunted houses,” dwellings where the market value has been compromised by unfortunate occurrences which have left lingering impressions on subsequent owners and prospective buyers, even the perception of creepiness making them difficult to sell.
New to the agency is Susan Ireland (Sarah Levy), learning the ropes along with the audience, welcomed by her new boss but knowing better than to allow herself to be so easily taken in by a smooth-talking colleague whose good looks distract from the ringing alarm bells that he might just be crazy were it not for the mounting evidence to the contrary, Luke’s own preference to find rational explanations in rusty pipes or sinking foundations notwithstanding.
The premiere episode focusing on the portfolios of two difficult properties, the somewhat easily resolved poltergeist plaguing the Lenore family of Castle Place and the deeper mystery of the basement portal to the underworld of Maple Valley Road, it is presumably the latter which will form the twisted backbone of the ten episodes of the season.
Paying homage to The Exorcist in its opening shot and acknowledging its debt to Ghostbusters but more focused on the job than Peter Venkman’s code-of-conduct violating shenanigans, the tone of SurrealEstate is situated in a neighbourhood somewhere between the archived investigations of The X-Files at its most sinister and Friday the 13th: The Series, stepping delicately between danger and playful.
As with all SyFy shows the budget of SurrealEstate is modest, restricting what can be achieved though much production value is carried in the exquisite (un)desirable properties themselves, both outside and in, and in the presence of the Rozon, maintaining grace under hellfire as Roman, and if so far his associates serve little more than functional roles as the premise is established it is hoped they will establish their individual strengths as the workload demands once their reputation is established.
SurrealEstate broadcasts on Friday nights on SyFy and its associate channels