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Fear + comedy = great TV – ‘Knock Knock Ghost’

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Fear + comedy = great TV – ‘Knock Knock Ghost’ (Image courtesy OutTV and Kyle Whitelaw)

Do you know what it’s like when you find a great new TV show and you want all of your friends to watch it and enjoy it as much as you do? I’ve got one - I recently discovered a boundlessly entertaining Canadian show on Amazon Prime called “Knock Knock Ghost.”

Produced by OUTtv, “Knock Knock Ghost” is co-hosted by a skeptical comedian (Richard Ryder), his assistant – a believer who is terrified of her own shadow (Brie Doyle) - and a paranormal researcher (Jim Hunt) who possesses the ability to see and communicate with spirits.

I should tell you that I do not ordinarily watch ghost-hunting shows. The intensity generally seems a bit overly dramatized and the “contacts” a little too vague to retain my attention.

What sets “Knock Knock Ghost” apart from the pack is the sincerity of the hosts, the truly frightening encounters captured in each episode to date and the welcome levity that is part of each episode.

“The humor is something we sort of stumbled on,” said Kyle Whitelaw, “Knock Knock Ghost” creator, producer, director and editor.

“The network had us shoot a teaser to see if the concept worked,” he said. “We ended up with enough good material for an entire episode which runs the gamut of human emotions. You get the history of the place, which is interesting. You laugh at some of the funny things that happen during the shoot and then you get very scared. At the end, you’re laughing again.”

When I told Whitelaw that my fiancé and I had to actually pause an especially frightening episode (season 2, episode 2 – “Hamilton Scottish Rite”) before summoning the courage to continue, he shared some information about what it was like to be present as the horror unfolded.

The episode was filmed at a building called The Towers in Hamilton, Ontario – home to The Scottish Rite secret society. Built in 1895 on property where several homesteads stood in the 1800s, it has been used for a variety of purposes. During WWI, the property housed a military headquarters and hospital and has been used by the Masons since 1920. The building was also used by filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro for his 2015 Gothic romance “Crimson Peak.”

“For me, that was our best location,” Whitelaw said. “That was probably the episode that scared us the most.”

The spirits in the building (we see many orbs captured on a night vision camera) seemed to target the ladies on the show crew during the late-night shoot. At one point, a terrified production assistant hears her son’s name called out in her son’s voice. She was quickly ushered from the premises by other members of the crew.

“That was my wife, Lauren,” Whitelaw revealed. “As she described it, every fear, anxiety and scary thing that had ever happened to her was thrown at her in what she described as a ‘wave of red.’ She doesn’t ordinarily have feelings like that. It was tough.”

Elsewhere in the episode, medium Jim Hunt makes contact with some of the building’s otherworldly occupants through what’s known as a spirit box – a device used to receive spirit voices via radio frequency. A repetitive demonic-sounding voice was especially unsettling for the crew.

Medium Jim Hunt explores each location cold, with no advance information about the setting, according to Whitelaw.

“Before we leave for the shoot, I give Jim a picture of a random spot at the location and ask ‘What do you get?’ He’ll let me know if he sees anything and if it’s worth investigating but he doesn’t know where it is,” Whitelaw explained.

Each episode of “Knock Knock Ghost” balances those truly frightening moments with laughs and levity – most of them from hosts Doyle and Ryder. A well-known Toronto-based comedian and radio personality, Ryder insists that unless a ghost walks up and introduces him or herself, he doesn’t really believe they exist.

I asked Whitelaw if Ryder is still a skeptic, even after what he experienced inside the Scottish Rite building.

“Richard’s job is to always be the skeptic,” he responded. “As he has said in the show, he’s afraid of what we’re doing but he’s still skeptical if he can’t actually see the ghost.”

In another episode, filmed at the Huron Historic Gaol (the setting for Canada’s last public hanging) we see Jim Hunt as he is wounded from behind while exploring the building. When revealed to the camera, the bleeding wound appears to be in the shape of a chicken’s foot before later morphing into another shape.

“A weird thing about that wound on Jim’s back is that it ended up looking exactly like the birthmark on our audio guy’s hand. That was very freaky,” said Whitelaw.

“Knock Knock Ghost” premiered on OUTtv in 2015. The first season was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Reality program. The show’s second season premiered late last year. The three remaining episodes in the show’s second season will be available on Amazon Prime later this year after first airing in Canada on OUTtv.

“Having the show available on Amazon has been a huge boost for our audience,” Whitelaw said. “The network very much believes in what we’re doing. My greatest wish is to push down into the U.S. We’ve scouted locations in Detroit and we’d like to come to Maine too. There’s so much history in your area, we’d love to do some shows there. Hopefully, they’ll push us forward for a third season because this show is so much fun to do.”

Last modified on Sunday, 15 April 2018 12:57


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