Kristen Stewart (of the Twilight movies) held a casting call a year ago to find 5 queer paranormal investigators for her new reality TV series. Living For The Dead is the result, and it’s a hoot. Get the review after the jump.
How would I describe Living For The Dead (LFTD) to a casual viewer? It’s a mix of a road trip (like Destination/Project Fear), BFF’s ghost hunting (like Conjuring Kesha), a dash of queer culture, and a handful of woo (a term for less-than-scientific investigating).
I binged the entire season this past weekend (Oct. 28th) while working to fix some hacked websites. Sure, there was stuff that had me groaning and shaking my head (more on that under What’s Bad …), but I thought LFTD is a refreshing take on a very stale TV formula.
The only groundbreaking bit is the full team of gay/queer investigators. I don’t think many people know about it, but there’s a lot of gay folks ghost hunting. On TV, the most visible are Adam Berry and Chip Coffey (Kindred Spirits).
The cast makes a show, and LFTD has a fun group of investigators. I hadn’t heard of any of them before the show. The team includes:
Roz (Paranormal Researcher)
You may already know Roz Hernandez. She hosts a popular paranormal podcast, Ghosted!. She’s also a comedian and social media darling.
On LFTD, she has the paranormal researcher label and gets the real tea on the haunt, clients and ghosts.
Listen to her podcast, Ghosted!, for a few giggles.
Alex (Ghost Hunter)
Alexandrè LeMay is the ghost hunting gadget guru. She carries a big ol’ case with bedazzled Mel meters, REM pods and more.
I didn’t find much about her ghost hunting career before LFTD. The best source to check out is her YouTube channel, which has some ghost hunts and gadget demos on it.
Ken (Tarot Expert)
Ok, I’ll be real: I had no idea what a Tarot reader would do on a ghost hunt. Throw cards at a ghost? I kid.
Ken Boggle is a legit Tarot expert, and he uses his skills to suss out secrets about the haunt, ghosts and even the clients. You can book a reading with him on his website.
JuJu (Witch & Spiritual Healer)
JuJu Bae brings the magic, divination and spirit channeling to the show. I didn’t find much about her paranormal investigations online, but I will say she brings a grounding energy to the show. Always calm, collected, and frank about what the spirits want.
You can learn more about her on her website.
Logan Taylor is a professional medium with over 10-years experience. He’s got quite the following on YouTube and Instagram. He can sense the drama and desires of our dearly departed in moments.
You can learn more about his radio show, road show and more on his website.
What’s Good About LFTD
LFTD is probably the best show at storytelling in the ghost hunting tv show genre. From the setup, to the interviews, through the investigation, and the reveal, the narrative is clearly understood and genre elements checked. We see gorgeous haunts, understand why ghosts haunt them, learn more about the cast, and find connections between the client and the spirits.
Really, it’s refreshing to see this much thought put into a ghost hunting show. Most of the other series just go for jump scares, screaming and crying for a narrative. The producers understood the assignment. This is a docuseries of a well-worn format. How do we make it stand out? Develop our cast as people while spiritual sleuthing.
Speaking of which, I’ve never known a ghost hunting show, since the genre took off in 2004, that spent so much time on the cast and their stories. I think the reliance on confessionals and random check-ins helped with this. I think Ken had the best storyline of all the investigators. He went from ‘the guy with the cards’ to a full fledged investigator with cards that pull secrets to the fore.
There’s a trend in paranormal TV shows going cinematic. LFTD is no exception, however, I think LFTD really does go cinematic. The filming quality, b-roll, camera work, drone usage, audio and editing are all top notch. Another thing I love is how the editor switches from the close-up confessional on camcorders to the fly-on-the-wall observer feel of the operator filming the cast member from afar.
I’m going to get really nerdy here but I have to say it: The color grading/correction/LUT usage is so spot-on. I’d give the show an Emmy for it. Just look at the washed out effects from episode 1 (clown motel) to the sumptuousness of the Palace Theater in Louisville.
The other thing that stands out is how much love and care is given to each haunt. As you watch the episode, the haunt becomes a cast member. We get a cozy in-depth look at each place, and more importantly, Roz and crew learn about the spirits, what they mean to the client, what they mean to the community, and why the team decided to investigate it. To me, this was done best with the Lemp Mansion and Palace Theater.
The show also avoids cheap jump scares and demons. God, I am tired of all the demon bullshit on the shows.
What’s Bad About LFTD
You’ll Love Or Hate The Ghost Hunting
The actual ghost hunting can be polarizing. If you like psychic investigations, spiritualist techniques, and the feeling-personal-experience type of investigating, then you’ll probably love it. We had investigators conducting séances, using dowsing rods, mediums channelling, and the sensitives getting the vibes.
I don’t care for that.
If you’ve been reading Ghostly for a while, then you know I’m a gadget guy through-and-through. Sure, the team does have gadgets, but they get discarded when the intuitives pick up on something spectral. I like to see something objective about ghosts, something you can verify. It’s hard to do that with psychic impressions.
However, I did love it when the team conducted a SLAY-ance at the Lemp Mansion. Did I buy it? No, but it was fun to watch.
Should You Watch Living For The Dead?
You bet! For one thing, the show if FUN. We don’t get enough fun on most ghosty shows. Not everything needs to shock you into crying and running away. It’s perfectly fine to take you on a little adventure, learn about different people and their experiences, and see some haunted sites.
While I’m not a fan of the investigating techniques, I love the cast, how much love the clients and haunts get, and the beautiful production. Hopefully, Hulu gives Kristen Stewart the greenlight for a second season.
It’s one of the first shows I go to when I turn on the streamers.
You can watch all episodes of Living For The Dead on Hulu right now.