Image Entertainment // 2012 // 528 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 25th, 2013
Get schooled in the paranormal.
I have lost count of the number of ghost-hunting programs that have or are currently occupying the airwaves. You name the basic cable network and there's an excellent chance there's a series featuring too-serious thirty-somethings wandering around a poorly lit domicile listening for the faintest bit of ambient noise to pin their supernatural hopes on.
The question then is...How do you take a tired, broken-down formula and pump enough life into it to make it fresh again?
The answer...You go full-on American Idol.
Ghost Hunters Academy takes haunted locations and terrifying door creaks and adds a hefty dose of reality contest, turning these routine paranormal investigations into competitive misadventures starring wannabe Ghost Hunters who are at risk of being sent home and seeing their dreams of ghost-busting disappear into a pool of ectoplasm.
Here's how it works. Veteran ghost hunters (their words, not mine) Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango, members of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), show the ropes to a rotating crew of wannabe reality stars. If these rookies have the juice, they'll be chosen to become full-fledged Ghost Hunters, awarded all the rights and responsibilities that go along with such an honor. What precisely those are I'm not sure, but it sure beats slinging hash at the local Denny's.
Each episode follows the normal Ghost Hunters game-plan, the team scoping out a haunted site, catching up on the lore, setting their gear, then traipsing through the spectral ground with their sound recorders in hand, bathed in darkness and illuminated in sickly green spinach night-vision. If they survive the night (which they always do), then comes the debrief and presentation of findings to Steve and Dave, who ultimately make a decision as to who's got the ghostbusting chops and who's just a poseur.
I suppose it makes sense for the brand to go in this direction, but that doesn't make the show any less lame. These students are so earnest in their wannabe ghost-hunting it becomes a semi-painful viewing experience, especially when their dreams are crushed by their betters. But who am I to deny someone the pursuit of their life's ambitions?
As with any reality competition, there's some melodrama at play, which is the stuff that seems most out of place. What kind of person is so into ghost hunting that they'll backstab and trash talk their fellow potential hunters? Oh right, attention-starved doofuses.
On the plus side, if you're still into these paranormal research shenanigans, you'll get a hefty dose. The locations continue to be creepy and geographically far-flung and the spectral history is colorful. As for actual supernatural activity? I'll let you be the judge.
The specs: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby, 2.0 stereo, no subtitles, and a bonus disc filled with extra footage.
Who you gonna call? Probably not these guys.
Review content copyright © 2013 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 528 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Footage