By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Please check local listings for broadcast times.
Dan Aykroyd is the host and spokesman behind T+E’s (Canada) Hotel Paranormal. In the States, it recently debuted on Travel Channel. I doubt his involvement goes beyond that. If he was an executive producer, he’d most likely demand a better approach curtailing interest in the supernatural. I’m on his side when he hosted Psi Factor during the first season, but producers took it to a different direction he said he disliked–despite continuing and the show became more of a fictionalized drama.
For myself, it’s less about getting scared, but rather in understanding why locations are haunted. Kindred Spirits does a terrific job as keeping this focus and consistency. In Sarah Zammit‘s (series producer) product is across the board.
The focus is more with frights than offering valuable insight on why these hotels are haunted or how the victims have been coping since. Had more of the latter been at the forefront, then this show would be a hit.
Just when I thought I’d seen everything, apparently in episode two, a “real” Freddie Kruger exists. He doesn’t haunt every hotel resident’s dreams. Instead, he preys on the young as though seeking vengeance upon certain individuals. By episode five, the tale is a play on The Eagle’s song, “Hotel California” with a good dose of Disney’s Tower of Terror mixed in. Whether these tropes are intentional, it has me questioning if these encounters are real.
Just how much of Aykroyd’s voice are his opinions versus those written by a script writer is a detail no producer will reveal. It’ll be kept under Locke and Key until a whistleblower tells all! In a paranormal investigation, that’s what we want to uncover. This program does little to offer results–whether the outcome is good or bad.
According to one interview on CBC, this actor said, “I believe these people. I do. And I’ve seen the evidence on video. And I just hear their testimony and go, there’s something going on here … that’s not false.”
He was convinced to join the show because of the “compassionate” way it presented the stories and the people who shared them. “The trauma that people go through in some of these incidents is quite shocking, and it stays with them. And sometimes, religious intervention is needed or psychiatric or psychological intervention,” he revealed.
Viewers do get to see how help is offered. Instead of letting the victims tell all, it’s reflected upon. Four episodes in. this series is feels more like a mixed bag of emotions being let out. There’s really nothing new to enjoy, and given the fact these are hotels, it’s not surprising these accommodations are not always revealed. No hotel wants to be held liable for those booking a stay in those cursed rooms and wind up getting hurt.
The one problem hurting this series is in how we don’t have recognizable personalities like George Noory of Coast To Coast AM. as the helpers–the investigators who know their stuff. I had to look up who Michael J. Worden (author of Ghost Detective), Linda Zimmermann (an investigator who appeared in the odd program like Paranormal Survivor), Tim Weisberg (podcaster of Spooky Southcoast Paranormal) and Sandra Mosses (UK based medium) are. It’s easy to hire anyone who’s been in this field. Whether they have a large following depends on how “famous” they are. I’d rather see Loyd Auerbach or The Parapsychological Association‘s credibility involved with this program than to have these other people.
Although very few paranormal researchers are recognizable household names, people like skeptic James Randi are still around debunking the paranormal. The willingness to appear in network television spookgramming was no doubt tainted by past experiences.
I’d love to see Ackroyd in the thick of an investigation (not as Ray Stantz) and offering insights to what he or his father would do. Yes, this idea would be crossing over into similar territory as The Holzer Files, but I find this formula is a better idea. Let’s see his investment go further than simply be another Rod Serling.
This TV series needs to offer online a history of these haunted hotels (when possible), along with the uncut original footage so we can judge for ourselves if we want to stay at that venue. Thankfully, not all haunted lodgings are like The Shining, otherwise I’d never sleep with all those spooks trying to possess every inhabitant.