Ghost Hunters International 2.4: "Witch Castle"

After a highly entertaining case in the previous episode, I wasn’t expecting much out of this installment. Even the initial moments of the episode seemed to suggest that this would be a fairly average outing. In essence, it still was, but the two cases both had their interesting aspects. They were by no means a waste of time.


They were, however, obviously placed out of chronological order. It’s painfully evident, especially when Ashley talks in the one case about how she’s never quite been that affected by a case before. Her experiences in the previous episode seemed to hit her a lot harder. More casual viewers might have questioned the sincerity of the team, rather than question the production decision to leave in the apparent discrepancy.


My only complaint with the rearrangement is particular to GHI. They turn over team members so often that the rearrangement takes away one of the points of interest: seeing the new team members find their place within the organization. Instead, the scattershot presentation makes it seem like the team members are effectively interchangeable. (Well, at least the “young attractive female” slot.)


In the wake of the previous episode’s review, some took me to task for overlooking the fact that very little debunking took place during the case. I think two things factor into that: the editing and the obvious psychological factor. Thanks to the editing process, we can’t be sure that debunking was not attempted. More than once, TAPS and GHI have stated that the editors have left out their attempts to debunk personal experiences. And there’s no denying that a strong psychological effect will become a distraction, and will challenge objectivity.


But I do think there’s a valid criticism to be made. The team hasn’t quite recovered from losing Andy during the first season. Andy had a good reason to stay behind, but Joe is a far cry from Andy. Joe is a lot more sedate and, frankly, doesn’t add much to the team. Note how Barry and Dustin have become a lot more prominent as the main support for Robb since Andy’s departure. Barry and Dustin work well together, and they even have a book coming out soon, regarding the approach that they prefer when investigating.


It’s true that Barry has been a lot more active in debunking “evidence” since Andy left the team, and I happen to think that Barry is one of the better investigators in the franchise, despite his tendency to overreact to supposed activity. But the team dynamic has definitely changed, and that is an example of something that is only apparent over time. When newer team members are only around for a short period, mixing up the cases out of order takes away the viewer’s ability to gauge that member’s contributions and/or growth.


But then, maybe that’s just something that I think about when I watch the show!


Case #1: Moosham Castle, Austria


The first thing I noticed in this case was the nature of the EVPs. Unlike a lot of the EVPs featured on this show (and in the franchise), these examples were well above the noise floor of the recording. There’s clearly something there in the recording, so it’s easy to see why the team found them significant.


I’m rarely impression by photos, because I think a lot of what is “seen” is pattern recognition and open to interpretation. (Photos are also much easier to falsify, though I personally don’t think that applies in this situation.) I can see what they interpret as a figure in the photograph, but I’m not sure that I would have come to the conclusion so readily. And I would have liked to have seen attempts to debunk the photo, similar to the work done in the second case.


But, as I mentioned earlier, that could have been left on the editing room floor. After all, this case felt rushed in presentation, and I think that had a lot to do with the decision to cram this case into less than an hour-long time slot.


Case #2: Schloss Portia, Austria


The second case was interesting to me because I’m of two minds on their treatment of the “evidence” that was previously collected. On the one hand, I found the pictures that were presented by the client to be a perfect example of wishful thinking. Both pictures were a huge stretch, and I agreed with the team when they dismissed their own picture for similar reasons.


But I do think that GHI did the client (and themselves) a disservice by presenting recreations that didn’t really address the same conditions as the photos that were analyzed. They really weren’t even close. Never mind that the conditions could never be precisely the same, and thus comparison photos wouldn’t be able to debunk anything properly in the first place.


The point is that it makes them seem dismissive of anything they haven’t collected themselves. Which, to be fair, is not something that GHI alone has done, and it’s probably better than the alternative that is often seen (accepting such items on faith). But just as dismissing something anomalous with questionable debunking undermines confidence, so does dismissing what a client brings to you without making sure you have a solid explanation.


One thing I loved about this case was Robb’s reaction to the loud bang. He just about hits the ceiling and looks like he’s going to soil himself. Just like Ashley’s terror in the previous episode, this is clearly a genuine reaction to an unexpected sound. I don’t think they ever managed to identify the source of the noise, so I’m impressed that Robb didn’t declare the place haunted. His on-the-fence conclusion is easy to understand!


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