By Andy Chandler
I’m a rather big fan of TV that challenges you.
Now, what you define as ‘challenge’ is subjective. For some it’s University Challenge, for some it’s heavy drama’s about murder investigations, for some it’s watching Andrew Lincoln and co. walk….so much walking. For me it’s TV that takes me out of my comfort zone, documentaries about serial killers or conspiracy theories are two examples of the types of shows that interest me.
I consider myself a rather big of of Mr. Louis Theroux, especially his ‘Weird Weekend’ series where he travelled the globe to experience the odd, the obscure and the bizarre side of life in the late 90’s – early 00’s.
Ok, a lot of the things he experienced seem tame nowadays, but at the time it felt very off-the-wall, especially as Louis Theroux never shied away from asking pertinent and incendiary questions, check out his documentary about the Westboro Baptist Church if you want to see Mr. Theroux at his very best.
We’re all a little bit harder to shock nowadays, so it’s hard to recreate that feeling of gritty honesty that swept you up watching Theroux ‘um’ and ‘ah’ his way through an odd situation. Well, that’s what I thought until halfway through an episode of Netflix’s new ‘Dark Tourist’ series.
Dark Tourist is the brainchild of David Farrier, a journalist from New Zealand who has taken it upon himself to take a closer look at the growing ‘dark tourism’ industry across the globe. ‘What is dark tourism?’ I hear you cry, well, you know those nutcases who go and take a look around Chernobyl inspite of the crazy amount of radiation? They’re dark tourists.
People drawn to the dangerous or the macabre, so much so that they’ll book holidays based around exploring an area or a building where death, violence and destruction have happened.
Farrier’s very much from the same mold as Theroux, he brings you into his adventures by seeming to be out of his depth or confused as to why people would do certain things. One episode see’s him venture to Japan, whilst there he visits the area around the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant that irradiated the surrounding area when tsunami’s decimated the Japanese coast back in 2011.
As Geiger-counters crack and tick away, Farrier’s eagerness to experience everything keeps your eyes glued to the screen. His run ins with Japanese police after he decides to go ‘off the tour’ and explore a highly irradiated arcade are tense, uncomfortable affairs, especially when the amount of danger he’s in become’s shockingly apparent.
The places he gets to visit in this show are amazingly varied, from dining with Vampires in New Orleans, touring the stomping ground of Jeffrey Dahmer, sweeping his hotel room for bugs in Turkmenistan and even swimming in the crater made by the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Kazakhstan, every adventure he has carries with it a certain degree of morbid curiousity that keeps you intrigued until the very end of an episode.
The Japan episode is the one that had me hooked, after his jaunt around Fukushima, Farrier heads to a haunted forest that doubles as an infamous suicide spot. He ventures through the woods with people who themselves have visited the woods to end their own lives but have changed their minds at the last minute. It’s an odd, macabre yet unmissable bit of television that I genuinely couldn’t stop watching, especially when they start talking of demons and spirits.
Dark Tourist is a bold and exciting series that, if you’re a bit dark in your sensibilities too, you’ll find intriguing and interesting in equal measures.
Farrier could very well be the man that takes Theroux-esque journalism to the next level, he does this by going to places that I think old Louis might not have had the guts to venture to himself, both physically AND morally.
This series is comprised of 8 hour long episodes that’ll take you all over the world, so check it out of you fancy a taster of the more macabre side of life across this crazy globe that we call home.