“Haunted Travels” is the mecca of informational television shows if you’re into horror stories. It’s not often you see a “viewer discretion advised” at the beginning of a travel show. Straight from the beginning, though, the show delivers on its promise of scary images that may not be appropriate for younger audiences. Creepy dolls, filthy zombie-esque visages, and other tropes appear in a title sequence that looks to have plucked footage straight from the scariest moments of horror films. If you’re not a horror genre junkie, however, then this show has little to no luster. “Haunted Travels” knows its audience, though, and definitely could be a go-to show for the seekers of the paranormal.
The description writes that the host, Ben Hansen, is also a paranormal investigator. It’s a nice touch that lends him some credibility, but it also makes me wonder while watching if he is a paranormal investigator first and actor second. His delivery of lines did a good job at giving an aloof tone to the show, but did not provide enough in his delivery to promote viewer intrigue. He seemed more like a detached commentator rather than a knowledgeable guide with a desire to make you want to know more. While the content of the program tries very hard to be engaging, the host has the opposite effect.
On the positive, the show’s quality is on par with any other paranormal investigation show on network television that I’ve come across. The creative team does an excellent job of weaving together elements of interview footage, historical recreation, informative photographs and documents, establishing shots, and others to tell each location’s story. If I were a paranormal fan looking to experience firsthand America’s most haunted spots, this show would be a great resource to get me amped up and ready to travel.
Trying to amp up viewers, though, should require a more conservative balance of information and horror motifs than this show has. The fear level is overdone, as the creative team tries too hard to include the typical scary images you’d see in a horror film - one part has a sequence of black-and-white shots that includes an old creepy doll in a rocking chair, a veiled bride in dim lighting, a woman contorting herself, and blood spattered on the screen, all shown in about ten seconds. It’s good that the show tries to add viscerally scary and creepy moments, but they don’t need to throw every horror trope at you. It’s too much all at once and definitely took me out of the moment. I forgot what story I was learning about because the horror tropes they showed had nothing to do with the story, they were just scary.
I did enjoy how much research the makers put into the show. I learned a lot about each location and it was neat to see relevant photographs to support claims. I can tell that a lot of work went into compiling information on each place. I went away feeling like I learned something, even if I was distracted by all of the unnecessary horror shots. I wouldn’t show this to children and wouldn’t watch it again for my own enjoyment, but if you are a fan of ghost hunter or paranormal stories in history, this is an excellent find.