When it comes to believing in ghosts and the supernatural, I lean towards the side of skeptic, though I’ve had experiences I can’t explain. Orbs captured in a photo floating between my stepsons, a general sense of unease during a week-long stay at a Pelee Island cottage. I love watching paranormal investigators obtain odd things with audio and video equipment as they dash around haunted locations. And while those blips and static-choked voices are certainly interesting, the stories told by those directly affected by the paranormal can be truly scary.
That’s certainly the case of Paranormal Survivor, returning for a second season Friday night on Travel + Escape. Broadcast during the channel’s free preview, Our House Media’s project sits down with the real people who have been at the wrong end of spooky experiences and re-enacts them for viewers.
“We’ve always be interested in the documentary with dramatization genre,” says OHM president Joe Houlihan. “You have people telling true stories that are dramatized. There is an audience that’s really interested in the paranormal, from true believers to skeptics. It’s a scenario where, if you find the right stories, the first-hand accounts are utterly compelling.” That’s certainly the case of the folks producers spoke to for Paranormal Survivor. In Friday’s return episode, hobby farm owner Al recounts how the feeling of dread he felt arriving home every night evolved into being bear-hugged by an unseen force; Karen of Fenelon Falls, Ont., describes a harrowing history of sexual abuse at the hands of an unseen assailant; and Kristen tearfully recalls her dead aunt chasing her.
Far from being salacious, Paranormal Survivor simply presents the victims’ stories, corroborated by the investigators who took on their cases and observed something strange going on. Everyone believes something happened to these people, but exactly what is up for discussion. Houlihan explains victims told their tales, writers put together the scripts and actors were cast to re-create those terrible moments; the result is truly chilling footage you should watch with the lights on.
Where does Houlihan fall on the spirit scale? He’s a skeptic too, though he admits to an encounter of his own.
“I lived in a 100-year-old house in the U.K. and I saw an apparition of an old lady,” he recalls with a laugh. “It wasn’t anything scary or threatening, but it was something where you say, ‘OK, that was weird.’ In my heart of hearts, I know what I saw.”
Paranormal Survivor airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on T+E. The network is currently in a free preview.