Ghost Hunters 6.5: "Touched by Evil"

I’m rather surprised at how much time TAPS has been spending in New Jersey recently. It seems like half the investigations they conduct for the show are within my stomping grounds. It’s very much a mixed bag. On the positive side, it’s great to see familiar locations on the show, because in many instances, I’ve either been to those sites beforehand, or I’ve always wanted to go there. It’s sometimes hard to get an accurate feel for how a location is represented by the footage on the show without that subjective experience.

Also, there are certain benefits in terms of networking. While I’ve been to the occasional event or conference, whenever it is local and therefore reasonably affordable as compared to other events (sports, concerts, NYCC, etc.), I’ve also had the ability to interact with current and former members of TAPS, their families and friends, and so on. As something of an “independent contractor” with a strong relationship with several groups in the state, I benefit from their ability to network as well. I don’t just see what “Ghost Hunters” wants to show me, or what the critics want to convey. Add to that an ongoing online dialogue for the past five years, and I think my perspective benefits from a fairly broad context. (Opinions on that may vary, of course.)

Unfortunately, as an active paranormal investigator, I also see the occasional downside. A number of locations that were featured on the show now charge a ridiculous amount of money to allow investigations, where it might have been a nominal charge (or free) in the past. These locations are also routinely booked to the gills, now that they are popular destinations for every group across the region. (And this only justifies the increased fees, since there’s always someone willing to pay.)

A more subtle effect is that some locations will deny regional groups the chance to investigate because they are holding out for TAPS. And there have been clients who have canceled investigations when they realize that they won’t be greeting a camera crew and getting on television. This isn’t just the fault of “Ghost Hunters”, of course; the glut of new paranormal investigation shows has made this exponentially more common. In fact, nearly every client in the past several months has mentioned being contacted by existing or new shows looking for fresh sites to feature. In almost every instance, we managed to get the case because either the location wanted non-televised perspectives, or wanted to avoid the cameras altogether.

To be fair, at the end of the day, I don’t begrudge TAPS for coming into New Jersey so often. On the while, the positives have outweighed the negatives, and the negatives can be managed with a little targeted effort and realistic expectation. A good case manager with the right attitude can make all the difference, especially when they know the right people!

I’ve been to Cape May more times than I can count. I spent nearly every summer for more than twenty years at the southern end of the Jersey shore. Cape May has a deep tradition of reported paranormal activity, and I’ve been to a few of the hot spots in recent years. Unfortunately, I’ve never managed to get into the Southern Mansion, but I certainly didn’t need much of an introduction to it. I knew where they were going as soon as they flashed the first picture on the screen.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that a number of factors contributed to my decidedly subjective enjoyment of this episode. I’m well aware that most or all of the “evidence” could have been easily misinterpreted or fabricated. And I’m well aware that the client stressed how most of the reports were made during events with high attendance, making the investigative conditions very different than the experiential conditions. I still thought this was a great episode (even if the title is remarkably stupid).

I’ll start with Jason and Grant. I still have my concerns about anything that happens with them. That said, a lot of what they mentioned they could hear was plainly audible: the movement, the footsteps, the talking, and so on. I mentioned in an earlier review that I was recently on a case where we captured footsteps at least as loud, which defied the usual explanations, so I’m wary of dismissing these recordings outright.

That turned out to be the most exciting audio “evidence” of the night, but it was barely mentioned during the reveal. Given how prevalent the disembodied voices and EVPs have become of late, that was a little surprising. Instead, it seemed like the majority of the personal experiences were related to “shadow figures” or physical contact.

Both Britt and Bruce claimed to see a shadow move in front of an existing light, and Bruce mentioned being touched twice (once on a previous visit, and then during the investigation). Of course, the real action seemed to happen in the ballroom with Britt and Amy. They made a point to say that all the mirrors could have an effect on perception, so was it legitimate? I would say, based on Amy’s expression, that she believed she saw something.

The big reveal for the episode was the door that appeared to close by itself. I’m not sure what to make of that. It would be remarkably easy for someone to make it look like the door closed on itself, and it wouldn’t rely on anyone from TAPS being in on it. So is this really something paranormal in origin? I can’t say that it was, just on the merits of this footage.

With just about every member of the team encountering some degree of apparent activity, I was pleasantly surprised when Jason and Steve were reserved with their final conclusion. I was sure they were going to fall over themselves to call the place “haunted”. Instead, they made a reasonable call, based on their experiences and assumptions. I really couldn’t ask for anything more. Except maybe a better title.


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