2018, Directed by Tony West, Bad Idea/Shudder, 92 minutes
Who else is tired of every single channel having its own paranormal reality show?! When Ghost Hunters first debuted back in 2004, it was something of a novelty. But in the age of amateur digital filmmaking and viral internet videos, we’ve seen far too many self-righteous/self-proclaimed “paranormal experts” attempt to show us proof of supernatural activity, while also aiming for titillating entertainment. And it is this very concept that DeadTectives satirizes and parodies hilariously and brilliantly.
The film opens with our team of fraudulent ghost hunters Sam (Chris Geere), Kate (Tina Ivlev), Lloyd (David Newman), and Javier (José María de Tavira), as they use Hollywood special effects to trick a bakery owner into thinking her shop is haunted by the ghost of her grandmother.
Very quickly, we realize that Sam is the incredibly over-the-top host and ringleader of this charade. While Lloyd believes ghosts should be taken more seriously, and Kate feels morally conflicted about the emotional pain they’re bringing people, for the sake of getting more viewers.
Just as Kate tells Sam (who she’s also married to) that she wants off the show, they’re sent to the most haunted house in all of Mexico with a new producer, Abril (Martha Higareda), who’s even more ruthless and heartless about exploiting people for views. Upon their arrival however, they soon discover that this house is truly haunted.
Right from the beginning, DeadTectives knows exactly what it is, and what it’s trying to poke fun at. As we see the crew faking their way through an investigation, our theories are validated that perhaps the entire paranormal TV show genre itself is fake. Our protagonist Sam (whose name is most likely a nod to Supernatural) is incredibly cheesy and campy in his screen presence, but that’s very much the point.
Yet, at the same time, the film doesn’t mock belief in the paranormal itself. Because they end up facing a very real ghost that poses a very real threat to them. In many ways, DeadTectives feels like the Tropic Thunder of paranormal horror. It began by satirizing the genre, but then becomes the genre itself. And much like that film as well, it never loses its sense of humor throughout. It’s fun, entertaining, and even gets legitimately creepy by the end!