A Star Trek analogy is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when discussing the paranormal. But that is precisely how co-host, producer, director and writer Paul Kimball describes the Eastlink television show Haunted, recently renewed for two more seasons.
“A lot of ghost shows are classic Trek where every episode features a different planet and a different woman for Captain Kirk to seduce,” says Kimball with a laugh. “But at the end of each episode, they wrap it all up, and the next time we are onto another planet.”
Haunted, on the other hand, is more like Star Trek Discovery, where the locations might be different, but it comes with an overarching story arc. “What happened before informs what happens now and what is happening now will undoubtedly inform what is going to happen five episodes or two locations later,” continues Kimball.
This formula has made Haunted a hit among viewers in which Kimball joins Holly Stevens and Dillon Garland to explore some of our region’s spookiest locations.
For Kimball, the idea for Haunted, and its predecessor Ghost Cases, comes from a fascination with finding an answer to the ultimate existential query. “It is a question I’ve always been interested in, even from a young age,” he says. “What comes after this?”
But while answering life’s (and death’s) biggest question may be at the forefront, Kimball also says it is about an inherent paranormal enigma. “Whether you’re looking for Bigfoot, UFOs or ghosts, there is an element of mystery, an element of the weird that is attractive too,” he says.
That element of “weird” reveals itself in Kimball’s refusal to buy fully into the idea of ghosts. “Could that be your Uncle Bob who has come back to have some fun with you? Maybe, but that would be the most mundane answer. Or have we somehow inadvertently stumbled upon something that is even more interesting in our search for the answer to life after death?”
Don’t expect Kimball and his team to provide all the answers, though. “If you want to believe it is Uncle Bob, then maybe is Uncle Bob,” says Kimball. “We’re not ready to tell you what to believe. We’re just ready to tell you to open your mind and see if anything happens to you.”
Haunted will open its fifth season with a multi-episode story arc in Louisbourg. “Louisbourg is an amazing historic site, and if you’re going to find a place with the paranormal, it is Louisbourg. With its history, trauma and with a lot of people buried there, it is one of those places where you’re going to find that,” says Kimball.
From Louisbourg, the team plans to return to the Seaside Heritage Centre in Clark’s Harbour. First explored in season two of Haunted, the Seaside Heritage Centre is one of only a couple of places members of the show had initially refused to return. It is also the one location Kimball feared for his life.
“It’s the one place where something tried to kill me,” he says. “I was going down some stairs, and something pushed me in the back, and there was nobody there. It is rare to feel something that physical, and you can see it happen on camera.”
But while he remains apprehensive, he is also curious to see what happens a second time. “It’s always good to go back to a place from time-to-time and see if it can happen to us again and see how these different people who weren’t there last time will experience,” he says.
Another of the confirmed locations for season five will include the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay, which has reported paranormal activity over the years.
As for completing season five during the COVD-19 lockdown, Kimball says it will be much easier for his small crew to complete.
“It’s not like you’re putting together a 50-person crew to shoot a major feature film,” says Kimball. “That type of production isn’t coming back anytime soon, but documentary and reality programming is different. We’ll film ‘ghost willing’ through July and August so that season five is ready for October.”
Like Star Trek, though, Haunted’s mission will not end after its five-year mission. With a sixth season confirmed, Kimball and his team will continue to explore the strange new worlds of the paranormal in Nova Scotia for some time to come.
Haunted currently airs on Eastlink Community TV on Saturdays at 10:00 pm and on-demand. Visit eastlink.ca for more information.