Starring: Robb Demarest, Donna LaCroix, Brian Harnois, Barry Fitzgerald, Andy Andrews, Shannon Sylvia
Produced by: Syfy
There is an episode of Newhart that has all of the townspeople getting spooked on a Halloween night. Half the town ends up in Dick’s, Bob Newhart’s, Inn complaining about strange truck like sounds coming from near the highway and strange airplane like lights in the sky near the airport. That episode kept returning to my mind the more Ghost Hunters International I watched.
The popular Syfy show Ghost Hunters has gone international. A new team of ghost hunters is assembled to handle the numerous requests the show was getting to investigate possibly haunted locations in Europe. The new team consists of, Robb Demarest, lead investigator, Donna LaCroix, case manager, Brian Harnois, tech manager, Barry Fitzgerald, investigator, Andy Andrews, lead investigator, and Shannon Sylvia also an investigator. The show follows a formula pretty closely. Each show starts with the team en route to some castle, tavern, monastery or even an entire village. While they are on the road Donna will brief the team on the new location. When they arrive Robb and Andy will interview the owner or caretaker of the property and get a tour of the place as well as getting some details about what they will be investigating. Then they help Brian setup all of the equipment. Once that’s done they turn off all the lights and start investigating. Robb and Andy will go off with the FLIR camera which will read an environments temperature. With it they can see any hot or cold spots. Brian and Barry will head out with meters that will read any electromagnetic field in a room then they will get spooked by shadows that never appear on the video they shoot. Donna and Shannon will wander around and after a bit Donna’s camera battery will go dead and then something will touch one of them. Then they will mix it up a little bit, everybody will take snapshots and record audio trying to record any EVP, electronic voice phenomenon, the idea being that sometimes you can record a ghost’s speech even if you don’t hear it. After about six hours they will turn the lights back on and pack everything up. Then they will all travel back to the hotel and analyze the data. Then Robb and Andy will meet with the owner or property manger again and review their findings which inevitably will end up consisting of some distorted overly amplified noisy audio samples that might be considered speech.
Okay I’m being a little snarky but unfortunately the description is all too accurate. The team is not entirely unskeptical and they do dismiss most of the possible evidence they gather, but the whole concept is flawed. There is no way they can prove or disprove anything in the limited amount of time they have access to the different locations. Plus the overly dramatic production of the show with the spooky music/sounds constantly playing and the way the show is edited to emphasize jump scares and attempting to build as much tension as possible just withers away any believability of the show. Occasionally something will come up that is genuinely mysterious or unexplained but since the team is only going to spend one night in each location it means there is no follow up or further investigation. There is no time they are already heading towards the next location to investigate. The team travels to some interesting places but nearly everything is filmed at night so the show doesn’t even work as a sort of travelogue. Anything can be entertaining if the personalities are right, but here there aren’t really any standout personalities to draw you in either. All of the team members come across as competent, but none of them have an abundance of charisma.
The video is presented in 4:3 or 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which is the normal non-widescreen TV aspect ratio. Most of the video is in black and white. I’m assuming most if not all of that footage is shot with night vision cameras. For night vision, the footage is remarkable. There is none of the ultra grainy green and black heavily vignetted video you might expect, but amazingly clear black and white. Considering the conditions most of this material is recorded in the video is great. I never noticed any kind of digital artifacts.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo. Technically there is nothing wrong with the audio. I never noticed any distortion and the mix is perfectly serviceable. However all of the little sound effects used to try to shape your emotions really undermine the show. It makes it seem like the producers didn’t have enough confidence in the material so they tried to use the soundtrack to give the show a boost.
The Packaging and Bonus Materials
The three DVDs come in a doublewide case. They all three lock down to one spindle with a curious little lock. I wouldn’t call the artwork inspired but it’s adequate with copy that is appropriate. The DVD menus could be improved immensely with the addition of a Play All button. The only extras are some deleted scenes.
I know this is just supposed to be entertainment, but I can’t give it a pass. Because you use a bunch of gadgets doesn’t mean you are performing scientific investigations. Who knows though, if the show was actually entertaining I might be able to look past all that, but it’s not.
Overall (not an average)5/10
The Show 5/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 7/10
The Bonus Materials 5/10
Overall (not an average) 5/10