On the Trail of Hauntings
Directed by Seth Breedlove | Small Town Monsters
Whenever someone finds out I’m a paranormal investigator, the reaction is inevitably some variation of “Wow! That sounds so exciting, I’d love to come along and watch sometime!” And I always chuckle. Because most of the time, their reactions are solely based on what they see on TV. Zak Bagans trying to fight off being “possessed” week in and week out. Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango yelling “What the f*** was that?” right before every commercial break. But reality is very quite different. Paranormal TV shows have presented a highly inaccurate, melodramatic version of what ghost hunting is truly like, due to their brazen thirst for ratings. And sadly, most people fall for it. On the Trail of Hauntings seems to be trying to correct that, though.
Since their inception, the Small Town Monsters team has been single-handedly attempting to undo all of the damage done to the field by paranormal television. And it’s a Herculean task. But somehow, they are doing it. And making it look easy in the process. They recently launched their STM Squad project on YouTube. Squad members can pay a monthly fee and gain access to special content – behind the scenes footage, deleted scenes, extended interviews, and more. On the Trail of Hauntings is their newest episodic documentary series, and will initially only be available to their Squad members. The first episode debuts tomorrow, and I got a sneak peak at it.
Much like previous entries On the Trail of Bigfoot and On the Trail of UFOs, this new series is less straight-forward documentary and more “boots on the ground” investigative project. Heather Moser, paranormal investigator and STM alum, is our host, and puts her TV counterparts to shame. She is respectful, subtle, and allows the show to breathe. She may be the host, but the show isn’t about her or how much of an “expert” she is. It’s refreshing to see someone humble take the reigns for once. The rest of the crew, who normally occupy a behind-the-scenes role, are included here too, including director Seth Breedlove. And it’s fun to see everyone get involved in the investigation.
The first episode (the only one available for review), “A Haunting in Hanoverton,” has the team investigating allegedly paranormal activity in Hanoverton, Ohio, and the legend of Christina Sloan. They talk to a local historian, interview a local paranormal investigator, and then settle in to investigate the town cemetery at night.
I don’t want to spoil too much, but even at a little over a half an hour, this episode does a pretty good job of encapsulating what a true paranormal investigation looks like, from start to finish. The waiting. The boredom. Goofing off to break up the monotony. The excitement when something finally does actually happen. And then trying to debunk the experience, with the realization that there might be a far less exciting explanation for it. There’s a taste of all of that here. And I think a series like this is what people truly interested in the paranormal need to see. Speaking from experience, 99.999% of any paranormal investigation is dull, monotonous, quiet, boring nothingness. It’s just the nature of the process. Because the thrill is in the hunt. The possibility of something happening. Not the guarantee that ghosts will show up for a chat and move objects around for hours on end. It’s ghost hunting, not ghost finding.
Episode One is an extremely accurate and honest look at the slow-paced and methodical reality of paranormal investigations. Small Town Monsters films have never been about sensationalism or jump scares or silly nonsense like that. If that’s what you seek, tune in to the Travel Channel. But if you want an authentic look into a “typical” investigation of something as subtle and fleeting as the paranormal or supernatural, On the Trail of Hauntings is definitely worth your time.
On the Trail of Hauntings premieres January 8th, 2021 on YouTube for STM Squad members