The Dead Files – Evil in Erieville – S01E01

The travel channel has brought out another paranormal investigation show by the name of "The Dead Files". This takes a different approach than other shows we’ve seen. On the one side we have Amy Allen who starts off by saying she can see dead people. She’s a medium who can feel events that have taken place in a location as well as take on the feelings and emotions of those who have passed.

Stephen Dischiavi is a former New York cop who takes on the more earthly role of investigating the history of a location through record searches. He spends his time interviewing people, going to the records office and digging through paperwork. His job is to find tangible paperwork about a location’s history. If there’s no newspaper report, then maybe it didn’t happen.

They do their investigations separately then get together and compare notes.

It sounds like a really intriguing premise and for the most part it makes for an interesting comparison. For this premiere episode, we have Amy and Stephen visiting the house of Elvis (not that one) because he’s bought a bed and breakfast and he’s running into some problems. He’s seen apparitions and has experiences on the property. Now he wants to know if the place is haunted. Has he just made the biggest financial mistake of his life?

Apart from the visit from a woman in his bedroom (after having a few drinks mind you) he finds an old picture in the walls of the house. There’s nothing sinister about the picture except that it was in the wall. He’s also been building a massive table for no specific reason. He says he feels compelled to build a table that would seat nearly 20 guests. He’s also been compelled to make some wooden blocks with letters and numbers on them and seemingly cast lots with them to communicate with the dead. It’s not something he’s done before so who knows where he got this idea. The buildup is that unseen forces are pushing him to act a certain way.

Stephen talks with neighbors and Elvis seems to be a levelheaded guy. The house is extremely old so he tries to find out about the previous owners. His research takes him to the records office where he finds some sketchy details about the house.

Meanwhile, in the house, we have Amy claiming that she can see a spirit at the top of the stairs. She’s able to feel her emotions, understand her mental state and gather details of her past. She speaks of the woman being spiteful, vengeful, mentally deranged with the disposition of a sociopath. She says the woman has done some horrible things and has probably killed someone. Amy continues to pull out details of a murder, a suicide, perhaps a poisoning. Children were hurt. They were always sick.

Back at the record office Stephen, finds records of a murder – suicide that happened in 1898, where a mother tried to kill her husband and three children with arsenic.

We basically watch as these two stories collide with the same details gathered from two different schools of thought. Unsurprisingly we find out they both have the same story to tell. A mentally unbalanced woman has tried to kill her family and herself with arsenic.

For the most part this show is actually pretty interesting, but I have several production issues with how it all plays out. Amy babbles way too damn much. As she’s "feeling the room" so to speak, she’s basically rambling and incoherent. She makes wild statements and tries to create dramatic tension. Maybe that is the way these things actually happen, but watching her, she seems kind of nutty herself. It’s sort of like watching Rainman talk about the paranormal. The other part is the faux record window they keep putting over her like something you see out of Paranormal Activity. It’s a cheap gimmick and looks dumb. It’s supposed to give it that grainy, "Blair Witch" feel, but I don’t see the point. There are professional cameras there, why are we seeing this?

You also have to take a lot of this on faith. You have to be willing to accept the idea that the medium hasn’t researched all the same information ahead of time. I can hold my skepticism, but sometimes they just seem to be going for dramatic effect more than anything else.

It’s an interesting idea and I’m curious to see where this goes. I do have some questions though, if she can see dead people why are there no digital recorders running? Where are the digital IR cameras? Where is the FLIR? If it’s so easy for her to see the dead why aren’t any of the standard paranormal recording devices pointed at the spot she’s pointing at? If this woman was at the top of the stairs for so long it would have the prime opportunity to capture evidence in a fixed location rather than just walking around in the dark.

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