'Ghost Chasers' Really's Newest Ghost Hunting Series Review
Amongst the new episodes of the familiar ghost hunting shows on Really this Halloween, there's a new paranormal investigation team on the schedule. 'Ghost Chasers' starts on Friday 27th October, with a new episode every night up to and including Halloween.
Other than 'Most Haunted', I don't tend to watch ghost hunting shows, so I wasn't going to review this new series, but I read another review of the show which said that the show was upfront in admitting that they fake the paranormal activity in it. This really caught my attention as I'd love to see a really good fake ghost hunting show with plot lines, drama, and spooky effects.
Unfortunately, that's not what 'Ghost Chasers' is, the reviewer was being facetious and was referring to the message "this programme is for entertainment purposes only," which appears on screen before the show. You see this message on most paranormal shows due to the unproven nature of the supernatural.
'Ghost Chasers' does consider itself to be a serious investigation. The show's host, a Dutch musician named Kay Nambiar is a little skeptical but is looking for answer. The show starts with his introduction.
"My name is Kay Nambiar, for years I've heard stories about ghosts, haunting and the paranormal, claims of apparitions and demonic possession, of poltergeists and spirits. They're said to inhabit the darkest corners, move among the shadows of the oldest buildings. But, do I really believe in them? I'm not convinced, so I want to discover the truth, whether ghosts really exist, or not."
Kay Nambiar, host
I watched the first episode, which airs Friday night at 9pm on Really. It sees Kay and his team investigate two haunted locations in East London.
Kay's team is made up of, Ian Lawman a psychic who claims to see ghosts, and two paranormal investigators, Paul Hobday and Chris Howley. It's nice to hear some local accents on TV, Paul is from my neck of the woods, Bristol and Chris is from just down the road in Gloucester.
The show itself is very well shot and edited, it's very slick and the visuals and graphics look great. Unlike other shows, there's no use of night vision, most of the investigation is shot by torchlight and "personal body cameras" are used to provide additional footage. Basically the team are armed with selfie sticks and have a Go Pro strapped to their head.
As the host, Kay's main role is to interview historian at the locations they visit, and to provide commentary in the form of a voice over throughout the show. Although he is involved in the investigation, it's Ian, Paul, and Chris who do the initial walk around of the location, and conduct the bulk of the investigation, with Kay along for the ride.
In his voice over, Kay explains that they chose London for the first episode as it's one of the world's oldest and most haunted cities, "it's claimed there's more ghosts here than any other cities."
Unlike other ghost hunting shows I've seen, which in fairness is just limited to 'Most Haunted', the team investigate one location throughout the course of an episode. In 'Ghost Chasers' the team take on two venues, the Ragged School and the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.
Ragged School Museum
The first ten minutes of the show was spent introducing the team and the Ragged School, the team's first location, which they were staking out on Halloween night. Today the building is a museum but 150 years ago it was used to educate the poorest children in the area. Thousands of children passed through the school, many of whom suffered at the hands of their sadistic teachers. It's said it's the spirit of these children that haunt the building now. Countless ghost sightings and weird noises have been reported here.
While Kay spoke to a historian/paranormal investigator about the school's grim past, his team did a reccy of the school to determine which rooms they thought were the "most spiritually active areas", it's these areas that the team will return to later, after dark.
It was nice to hear Chris explain why they conduct their investigations in the dark, "we do our paranormal investigating at night, not because ghosts are more active at night, but because the locations are generally quieter." This is actually quite a good explanation, a nighttime investigation would eliminate a lot of background noise.
The two locations the team chose were a classroom on one of the upper floors, and a pretty creepy basement playground. Before Kay and his team headed off to these locations, Ian performed a prayer of protection to keep them safe from evil spirits. Amen.
In The Classroom
The team decided to come back to the classroom as during their walking around, psychic Ian had said he could feel the spirit of a child there. Ian tells us that the spirit is an intelligent haunting. The show is interspersed with diary-style talking heads of the cast, in one Paul tells us the difference between a residual and intelligent haunting.
On their walk round Chris also noticed a spike on his EMF meter, he then appears in a talking head to explain what this mean, "believers will say that a spike in electromagnetic field could be a sign of spirit manifestation or spirit interaction, there could also be other logical causes for this." Again, this was quite rational and nice to here.
Now in the dark, the team dragged Kay up to the classroom where he started to feel cold on the lower half of his body. Kay, acting quite rational, asked one of the guys to grab a digital thermometer... very scientific, until he read the current temperature as "20 degrees centigrees."
They held the thermometer around Kay's knees and watched as the temperature rapidly plunged by three degrees, a change which the investigators described as "a significant drop".
Of course I was sat watching thinking "heat rises, it's bound to be colder near his knees" and "that thermometer was in his pocket before, it's just cooling down". So, it was nice to hear Kay say that he wasn't convinced by this, he said, "the thermometer was taken out of the bag which is probably warmer than the room."
Although, perhaps Chris is a little less rational than Kay, as he couldn't explain what could cause a temperature drop like this. Meanwhile, Ian was making contact with the spirit of the school boy again. The boy told him that he was stuck there and need help, he would show them why. Ian said they needed to go downstairs.
Before they left the classroom, Paul set up a laptop to record audio throughout the night.
The Playground Basement
The team made their way down to the basement, they'd only been there a few seconds when Ian asked Kay if he had heard someone whispered his name, Kay said "I thought I did".
And that was it! The investigation of Ragged School was over. Nothing happened, it was very dull and lacked any excitement, emotion or humour. And why did they leave the school? Because Kay got scared!
The man who hosts a show in which he wants to prove ghosts are real hears one weird thing and flees the building. It's hard to prove something if you run away at the first sign of it happening.
He said, "hearing my name mentioned down here is way too much for one night".
Royal Arsenal, Woolwich
The gang's second location in East London was the 300 years old, former munitions factory in Woolwich. The factory is said to have witnessed its fair share of accidental deaths, murders and suicides during its year of operation. Staff at the Arsenal, which is now a museum, say they've experienced plenty of poltergeist activity, and one member of staff even claims he was slapped around the head by a ghost.
As with the previous location, Ian, Paul, and Chris did an initial exploration of the building while Kay interview a historian about its past. The historian tipped Kay off about the Academy Building and Building 41, the two locations where supernatural activity is mostly commonly reported.
The Academy Building Cellars
The cellar is supposed to be the final resting place of a prostitute who was locked up there and left to die in a pretty grim way, it's said she would have been eaten alive by rats. Staff at Woolwich Arsenal says the ghost ignores women but likes to mess with men who go down to the cellars. One witness who was interviewed on the show said that the ghost first checks that the man has a big wallet, and then looks for any other bulges in his jeans.
While in the cellar the team used Echovox, a "ghost box" app on a mobile to try to communicate with the spirit. The app spews out random sounds, the phonics that make up words. Supposedly spirits can affect that random nature of this app to form words.
The team asked the spirit her name, and the app said "Angela", they asked her to confirm that her name was Angela and the weird robotic voice said, "yes". They then asked her what her profession was, the random voice coming out of the app then said "pro". Chris and Paul got very excited by this, assuming that "pro" meant "prostitute" but Kay wasn't so sure, "even though 'pro' is used as a slang for prostitute in Britain, I still think it was a bit too far fetched. But then again, the overall results really impressed me."
One of the staff members then joined the investigators in the cellar and claims the spirit stroked her bum... yes, in a "sensual" way. Then Chris and Ian heard the distinctive sound of a zip, thinking this might be the spirit try to undress one of the guys, they all checked their jeans. Kay found his fly was slightly undone.
The team's final stop on their first episode was Building 41, a part of the arsenal where artillery shells were made. Part of the manufacturing process involved the use of mercury in the fuses, if it was inhaled or absorbed through the skin it caused factory workers to go insane.
It's believed this was the fate of one ghost, hence his nickname "the Mad Hatter", it's said when he gets angry he throws things around. One member of staff says he once had a chair thrown down a flight of stairs at him.
Kay and his team took a thermal camera into one of the warehouse in Building 41 where they felt there was the best chance of picking up some activity. They were using a Flir thermal camera with a tablet.
Kay held the device and pointed it into the centre of the room, a hot spot seemed to appear in the middle of the screen. Ian asked the spirit to walk towards them and the glowing orange heat spot grew more intense on the screen. Then, suddenly the camera died, apparently due to low batteries. The investigators speculated that this could have been a ghost draining the battery.
So, after just a few minutes that was their investigation of Building 41 complete, as Kay (the non-believer who's desperate for evidence) got scared again. He said, "there's no way I was going to stay in that room with some unknown entity and I knew we needed to get out of there as fast as possible" and then they all ran out like babies.
While the show looked great, was well produced, and had a good balance a paranormality and rationality, it fell a little flat as it felt all of the investigations were cut short as soon as Kay got freaked out. Perhaps it's because they squeezed two locations into an episode, but every vigil seemed to end quite abruptly, but it was nice that every skeptical thought I had was addressed by either the show's host or the paranormal investigators.
The most impressive bit of evidence that was captured during the show was some audio which was recorded on the laptop which was left in the classroom over night. When played back it was a very clear sound of a child talking, although the words were inaudible. You can hear echoes which suggests the voice was coming from inside the room and isn't background noise from the outside world. The investigators say they checked before and after the sound and heard on one come in to or leave the room on the recording.
It's one of the best examples of electronic voice phenomenon I've heard... but as I don't know for sure how it was captured and what the conditions were, it can't be classed as proof of ghosts.
A second, less impressive voice captured in the recording says something which again can't be distinguished. The researchers seem convinced that it says "ragged school" but it could have said anything. Again, Kay was as skeptical as me, "the human brain likes to look for patterns within chaos".
Paul explains this further, "so there's something called audio pareidolia where by your mind is trying to make sense of random noises by trying to apply sense to them."
I thought overall the show was pretty good but it lacked in entertainment value, it was a very mater-of-fact peek into a pretty uneventful ghost hunt. I'm not really a fan of this genre in general, so perhaps fans of paranormal television might find enjoyment in the team's thorough approach to ghost hunting.
It's nice to see a show taking the paranormal seriously, but if anything, I'd say 'Ghost Chasers' takes itself a bit too seriously. Kay is like the paranormal world's answer to David Blaine, even when he's scared he's cool, calm, emotionless and monotone. The only moment of humour in the whole show was when one of the team questioned whether an electrical device could have been interfering with an EMF meter, "have you got your phone in your pocket?" Ian replied, "no, I'm just pleased to see you, Paul."
The attempt at humour was wasted, none of the rest of the cast showed any sign of amusement thus killing the moment. It was the show's only attempt at injecting any character or personality and induce a smile, but actually it resulted in nothing more than a tumbleweed moment.
Kay sums up the first episode by saying, "we've spent just 48 hours in East London and there have been so many odd and inexplicable events. Electromagnetic spikes, temperature drips, hearing my own names whispered, ghostly voices, a 200 year old prostitute, not only trying to communicate with us but unzipping my fly, and the most frightening of all the Mad Hatter. But despite all these strange encounters, I will continue my quest to find proof of the paranormal."
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