Here we go again, another haunted hotel room. This time around, we have a man named Frank Ramirez shooting video (from his phone) inside a hotel room. The video has surpassed nine million views and spurred some heated debates on social media (because, well, that’s what you do on social media). We’re going to deconstruct the video here, looking at the details and pointing out several flaws. Below is my video recreation so you can see that this absolutely can be done with a roll of fishing line.
The original video starts off with Frank saying “I decided to turn on my camera because…there’s something…really scary going on in here right now”. We get a view of half the room, which includes the bed, vanity/sink area, and dresser drawers/TV area – a typical motel room. There are two mirrors in the room; one next to the TV and one behind the sink in the vanity area.
Frank claims that he was watching CNN, and the phone receiver fell off the receiver all by itself. He also states that the courtesy cups (the kind hotels give you, wrapped in plastic) also moved, falling off the counter to the floor. He continues to tell the camera that it “was freaking me out” and then we see the first sign of shenanigans.
At time stamp 0:55 he pans the camera back at the mirror on the wall by the TV. We can see his reflection in the mirror as he deliberately looks to his left and down, making a motion like he’s going to pick something up. He looks back up and notices he can see himself in the mirror and steps to the left, out of the reflection. He immediately turns the camera around to face the wall, and seems flustered as he repeats “I decided to turn on my phone”. The camera pans over to the vanity area, then back to view the TV…and the phone receiver pops off the base. The movement is towards Frank, actually to his left…which would make sense if he was holding a Tug Line in his left hand. Frank calls out “I know I got that”. Of course you did, Frank. (You knew it was coming.)
He takes the camera over to the phone to check it out. Take note that he focuses on the base of the phone first, keeping it the center of the frame as he approaches. He tells us it’s not plugged in, then pans over to show us the receiver. Pay attention, because when he shows the receiver, he’s careful not to let us see the top (earpiece) for too long. In fact, the glimpse we do get is a fraction of a second. It’s quite possible he attached the line to the receiver under the earpiece. Ya see, kids, back in the day, these ancient telephones allowed you to unscrew the ear and mouth pieces. It’s where spies would hide their bugs in old movies. It’s easy to secure a line under the cap. Something that I should point out too, he never picks up the phone receiver to inspect it or puts it back on the base.
After a few seconds (literally), Frank leaves the phone and walks over to the vanity area. He’s had a towel over his right shoulder since the beginning of the video, and here he pulls it off and places it on the counter (time stamp 1:56). He seems to just toss it down, but it was pretty obvious that this was going to be a part of the “activity” as well. Frank turns, acting like he’s going to walk toward the TV again, but doesn’t move out of the vanity area. He turns back and forth, with the camera facing away from the towel (and mirror) he just put down. This is typical of videos where the person setting up the hoax is not really good at what they’re doing. He’s turning the camera away so that he can pick up the line attached to the towel. When he finally pans back and asks, “Can you move something else again for me…anything?” he is already pulling the line prematurely. At time stamp 2:28, we can see in the lower left corner of the scene, the end of the towel (end closest to Frank) is “bobbing” like a bobber on a fishing line. I honestly don’t think he even realized his blunder, with trying to focus on the camera screen and not getting caught in the mirror. However, he does realize he can see himself in the mirror, and slides to the left with the same motion as the towel that now slides off the counter – once again, towards Franks left side (because that’s where he’s holding the line). I have to ask – why didn’t he pick up the towel and put it back?
After a giggle, Frank makes his way to the opposite side of the room again, asking the…whatever he thinks is there…if it can tell him its name. We hear a noise and Frank turns the camera quickly to the phone, and we see it doing a bungee-cord kind of bouncing, again towards Frank’s left side. This is an obvious sign that the phone receiver is attached to a line; the coiled phone cord is trying to pull the receiver back, but the pull line attached to it is trying to keep it away. The result is the bouncing back and forth we see in the video. Again, he just leaves the phone hanging there, rather than putting back on the base.
More giggling (maybe because of all the people he’s fooling), and Frank again pans the camera to the right (viewing the vanity area) as he moves towards the dresser with the hanger on it. As soon as he gets there, he backtracks – going in reverse so that he can get the hanger just barely in view. As the hanger is coming into the frame, it’s already sliding off the counter – AGAIN, towards Frank’s left side. This time he really screws up, because we can see him in the mirror and it looks like he’s pinching his fingers together like he’s holding a line. You can see that he notices his mistake, and quickly steps back and to the left to get out of view – and laughs. This is painfully obvious that he’s laughing because he knows he goofed. Once again, he doesn’t bother to pick up the hanger, he just leaves it on the floor.
He walks around some more, opens the door in an attempt to get the “ghost” (I’m going to call it that for now) to leave. Frank then backs up to stand in the same position he was in both times the phone had moved “by itself”. The receiver, which is still on the floor, is wobbling side to side slightly. I don’t think Frank realizes this, or that he disturbed the line he has attached to it when he backed up to that position. He asks “Can you move the phone again?” And, once again, the phone receiver (only) is pulled towards Frank’s left side (Still…he leaves it on the floor). It would have been interesting if the phone had moved while Frank was on the other side of the room or maybe have it move AWAY from him.
During the course of the video, there can be seen a small pair of scissors on top of the mini-fridge between the bed and vanity area. They’re embroidery scissors, used to snip loose threads in garments. Sometimes these are part of sewing kits, but you can also buy them separately. I found this to be an odd place for scissors, on top of the mini-fridge, rather than on the sink counter. Perhaps they were used to snip the ends of the fishing lines, and the knotted lines on the towel, phone, and hanger.
This video is typical of dozens…no, hundreds (maybe thousands) of other alleged “poltergeist” videos all over YouTube. It screams of “staged”, from the cheesy movements of the objects to Frank’s mistakes in always pulling the objects to his left and getting caught in the mirrors. There’s nothing special about this video, other than people wanting to believe in this stuff without looking at the details.
Frank made a second video, attempting to quiet the skeptics by “debunking” the use of fishing line and sets up a phone, a towel, and a hanger. The choice of fishing line he made for this “debunking” was a good one since it’s a type that is easy to see. He purchased 6-pound test line, with a clear plastic look to it. This doesn’t mean it’s invisible because clear plastic still has an off-white tint to it. However, under poor lighting, fishing line can pretty much disappear from a camera, especially a poor quality video such as this. The hotel room is poorly lighted, with a light over the door and another a smaller one to the right of the sink. In such environments, they look brighter on the phone video than they actually are. These are good conditions if you want to hide the fishing line.
I want to point out that Frank is also into fishing. While browsing his Facebook page, I found several photos of him enjoying a day or night out fishing. This alone doesn’t say he was hoaxing the video, but it does establish he is a fisherman, and well acquainted with different types of line (and would have some).
He recreates the “poltergeist” events in his debunking, with a noticeable determination to make sure you see the fishing line. He’s also in a different room (a nicer one too), with a different phone, and better lighting – he’s got a lamp right over top of the desk where the phone and hanger are placed. This makes a big difference, as can be seen after he turns the desk lamp off and the line becomes harder to see.
You should also note that his recreations aren’t true to the originals. When he recreates the hanger event, he’s standing back so you can see the desk with the hanger on it as well as a good portion of the floor. He’s also got the scene centered and steady. In the original, he was turning the camera and the hanger just came into the scene at the very bottom of the frame and it’s already sliding off the counter. Only after it’s on the floor (and out of frame) does he back up and see where it landed. (This is the part where if you watch the mirror, you pretty much see him pulling it) Frank also states in the recreation that “You can clearly see the fishing line, I think I zoomed into the hanger too” (meaning in the original video). He did not zoom in on the original video.
The towel is another recreation that is not true to the original. In the original, the edge of the towel (that we see flap prematurely) is at the bottom edge of the frame, and Frank keeps it at the edge until it slides off. It actually goes out of frame as it falls to the floor before Frank points the camera down at it. In the recreation, Frank is standing back, in a much better-lit room, and he’s got a wider view of the towel on the counter and the floor.
You may think this is nit-picking, but these variations make a big difference. When you’re not replicating the events under the same conditions, you’re changing the variables, allowing the data to be tainted. I would have loved to see Frank go back to the same hotel room, under the same lighting conditions, and try again. Otherwise, I can’t accept his debunking video a valid attempt. It comes off more like “I’m going to overdramatize the events to make the explanation seem silly”. But Frank has his reputation at stake now, the video has been viewed almost nine and a half million times (as of this writing).
Aside from this, Frank seems to be a really nice guy. Even in his debunking attempt video, he’s polite and thanks to everyone for their comments – both positive and negative. He’s not full of himself or being nasty about the feedback. Truth be told, I think the guy was playing a joke, having some fun while stuck in a hotel room (probably bored out of his mind). Like other jokes that involved social media, this one took off and quickly got out of hand. Although, his claims of “As God as my witness it’s 100% real.” [Facebook comment by Potus Frank Ramirez. August 3, 2017. 10:38 AM.] It kind of makes me rethink his good nature. All the evidence points to a hoax, but he’s still sticking to his story.
It’s interesting that there was a group that visited the hotel room later on. In one article (“Two Different Guests Post Chilling Videos Proving A Hotel Room Is Haunted”), three videos from this group are presented, posted under the name Abel Fonseca. They’re not very interesting, with only the TV turning on “by itself” – with the remote sitting right next to the two guys. However, a fourth video I found on Abel’s Facebook page shows them using fishing line to recreate the phone popping off the base. It’s a good recreation, showing that it can be done quite easily. See also “Ghosts? Is this hotel room haunted? You be the judge”.
My recreation video: