Delve Deeper

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Dead Files (review)

**UPDATE** WOW... I can't believe this is my most popular/searched for blog post. People love them some crazy, don't they?

So I've seen every episode so far of a new show on the Travel Channel called Dead Files . I had some high hopes for this show because I've been interested in the paranormal and spirit communication since childhood. But I was pretty disappointed. Is it entertaining? Sure, it's entertaining (or amusing?) enough to sit through but there are enough problems with the show that I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it to anyone.

The most glaring problem I have with the show is the so-called psychic Amy Allen, if that's even her real name. She is completely over-dramatic and annoying to boot. I hate how she scrunches up her face in feigned agony and shakes her hands wildly like shes trying to shake spirits off of her. It just looks like a cheesy act. So unbelievable the way she lays it on so thick. Learning body language will help you catch those micro expressions she makes (and can't control) that give her away. She's playing for the cameras. I love/hate how she's completely calm but the second she notices the camera is in her face she has to make an extreme facial expression or say something profound. Give me a break, lady! Also, I find it odd that there's a guy they show videotaping her, yet there is also an invisible camera crew taping him. What's the point of this? This tells me that it's all set up.Unlike Ghost Adventures where the only cameras are the ones the guys bring in-- no camera crew (read more about that below). [I have a degree in film and video production so I tend to notice things like this.]

Also, something the more logical viewer will probably have asked themselves is: how do we know for sure that the "psychic" (or "paranormal researcher and physical medium" as stated on the Travel Channel site) and the retired NYPD homicide detective, Steve Di Shiavi, have not discussed the case before Amy goes in and does her little act for the cameras. Let me guess: the psychic segment is taped LAST... correct? On the official website it states: "Amy’s abilities have been studied and tested by leading para-psychologists. She has worked with private investigators, police agencies and has conducted more than 350 investigations in both private homes and businesses." I'd like to see evidence of this. Where are the studies and what tests were performed exactly?

This could just be another Paranormal State situation where the producers gather all the information about the paranormal activities, feeds it to the "psychic" (Chip Coffey) and he does a great act of being incredibly accurate and detailed.

There are psychics. I don't doubt that at all. And people/shows like this do a disservice to real psychics. They are snakeoil salesmen. Charlatans. Some are pessimistic about paranormal reality tv shows, stating that they are ALL fake. I can understand why they scoff at them, but as someone who studied film/tv production in college, I can tell you: all of these shows will have edits. They aren't broadcast live.

But with TV production in mind, I can say that there are better shows out there. My favorite being Ghost Adventures (which I only recently got into through watching on Netflix; now I can't get enough!) Don't let Zac Bagans hyped up provocative style fool you. Spirits react to provocation, and as he states repeatedly, he only provokes the bad spirits (people who were murderers, molesters, etc.) And what they do that also adds to their credibility is they will often review EVPs on-site. Their injuries are also real. I have woken up with scratch marks that I could not have possibly made myself. And the scratches are so thin. When I scratch myself they are wide scratched due to my short fingernails, not thin spindly. I used to dislike Ghost Adventures, despite never having seen an entire episode. I would catch my mom watching it all the time and I'd watch for a few minutes and took the guys' behavior as frat boyish and not serious ("Dude! [expeletive] What the bleeeeeeeeeeep!?"). But see what can happen when you take things out of contexts. Lucky for the Ghost Adventures is on Netflix.

But back to The Dead Files. Will it last? I think not. It's not really catchy or memorable. Also, I thought to myself: if the show was a little longer maybe they could get more done. Then I realized that the show is an HOUR long, which shocked me. So to me, that just shows a poor concept and format. They're not doing it right. In an hour, you should convey much more information than they do. And it seems they focus more on Amy the psychic than the research done by the retired cop.

I knew I couldn't have been the only one who thought so!