Spooky season went out with a bang this year, especially with the conclusion of the Watcher’s web series’ first season, Ghost Files. Hosted by self-proclaimed ghoul boys Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej, Ghost Files consisted of six episodes in which skeptic Madej and believer Bergara explore various “haunted” locations. Complete with ghost hunting tools and their respective charms, the two set out to gather evidence about these locations, informing their viewers so that they can come to their own conclusions.
In this first season, the pair explored a number of famed sites, among them being the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary and the Whaley House, known for being the two most haunted sites in the United States. Each episode shows Bergara, Madej, and their team of videographers and producers spend hours wandering these locations’ grounds, attempting to capture ghostly evidence with their array of equipment, sometimes successful and sometimes not. Viewers get the pleasure of not only receiving an in-depth history lesson on what makes each location supposedly haunted, but also the hilarious interactions between Bergara and Madej as they taunt the ghosts and each other.
The comedic duality of evident skepticism and fearful belief create for a beyond entertaining watch that can humor anybody. Madej’s nonchalant demeanor perfectly contrasts that of Bergara’s anxious tendencies, allowing viewers to witness an ideal hosting situation of conflicting yet complimentary opinions. In episode debriefs— shorter videos in which the two answer viewers’ questions and examine evidence gathered in the episodes— viewers are given logical and supernatural explanations for the abnormalities that occur.
It is unsurprising why Ghost Files experienced immediate success. Bergara and Madej wield ghost hunting expertise from a previous show on BuzzFeed’s YouTube channel called BuzzFeed Unsolved, which ran for eight seasons over the course of six years. During this time, the duo dove deep into some of the most troubling true crime cold cases and hands-on investigations of ghostly sites, quickly attracting a cult following in the process. Fans loved the witty banter and playful bullying between the two hosts; their fanbase’s devotion enabled the web series to land streaming spots on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.
Upon them announcing their leave from BuzzFeed, and therefore Buzzfeed Unsolved, Bergara and Madej worried fans about never returning to ghost hunting; nevertheless, there was obvious excitement for the new projects that lay ahead.
The anticipated arrival of Ghost Files on their budding channel Watcher exceeded expectations; the first episode alone garnered over 4.5 million views. It is beyond a doubt well-deserved.
Immediately, one can observe the level of professionalism in Ghost Files that BuzzFeed Unsolved lacked. Detailed graphics, a well-established set, and even the introduction of more sophisticated hunting tools demonstrate that the ghoul boys aren’t messing around, nor is their budget. Ghost Files surpasses even the most well-known ghost hunting shows simply for the fact that Bergara and Madej don’t try to manifest evidence where there isn’t any. Likewise, there’s an apparent absence of overdramatization that presents itself in many other ghost shows. As a viewer, it is clear that the show is more for fun and audience enjoyment than anything else, which makes it engaging to watch.
Whether a Shaniac (the boys’ nickname for a skeptic), Boogara (a believer), or somewhere in between, there is something to be had for everyone within Ghost Files. Though the next season doesn’t air until 2023, anticipation buzzes for what mysteries Bergara and Madej have in store.