With long, bright summer days in full swing, most of us aren’t thinking about themes typically associated with autumn, like haunted houses and spirits. But as one local team of paranormal investigators recognize, ghosts don’t take vacations.
A team of young Mainers — Ash Brooks, Carol Cleveland, Tyler Gowen, and Katie Webb — recently launched Season Four of a YouTube series called Haunt ME, which has them exploring what they've identified as historically haunted sites around the state and documenting signs of alleged supernatural activity.
They all wholeheartedly believe in the existence of paranormal presences, claiming that they are organized under three categories: intelligent, residual, and other. Under this assumption, the team approaches each episode as seriously and methodically as possible.
After spending several years touring Maine’s spookiest spots, any doubts about the existence of these entities were completely exorcised from their minds.
“Any bit of skepticism has been eliminated,” said Gowen, an English degree holder from the University of New England who acts as the tech analyst on the show. “We definitely believe there’s something weird and supernatural out there. What that weirdness exactly is, however, is up for debate.”
This type of reality television is of course nothing new, with seminal shows like Ghost Hunters, Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, and Unsolved Mysteries inspiring an entire genre of spectral docudrama-style reality shows since the late '90s.
But Haunt ME is unique in two ways. It’s fan-funded on YouTube and focuses solely on Maine, a state home to many legends and its own storied, mysterious history of reported haunts.
“There are incredible stories to share in Maine,” said Gowen. “This state is steeped in lore. There’s so much here that’s undisturbed and has a level of magic to it that really makes this show work.”
The show has shot at creepy locations like the Parsonfield’s Seminary, Biddeford’s Old Mill Complex, Portland’s Masonic Temple, Fort Knox, the haunted lighthouse at Seguin Island, and Fryeburg’s Admiral Peary Inn, to name a few.
Apart from these locations, the rest of what the show features is pretty standard genre fare. The team members all have different roles — Gowen a tech analyst who searches for evidence of ghosts with a camera, audio recorder, and K2 meter; Brooks a folklorist who offers historical accounts; Cleveland the manesologist (something like a paranormal psychologist) who attempts to contact spirits; and Webb the oculist who provides “arcane knowledge.”
They research and scout each site, providing viewers with both historical and mythological context, while attempting to make contact with the other side using everything from tarot cards to electromagnetic scanners. The episodes, each about 20 minutes long, then offer a variety of creepy location shots, seemingly unexplainable sights, sounds, and objects, spooked reactions from the cast, and interviews with paranormal experts woven in between.
“Haunt ME isn’t sensationalized at all. Footage is simply captured and presented,” said Gowen. “And instead of just trying to log in evidence of ghosts, we actually try to help the people both alive and dead that are in these places that we visit.”
While many won’t likely be swayed to believing in otherworldly beings from this show, it does provide some thought-provoking entertainment, with an underlying theme of local Maine history that proves to be quite interesting. There are also meta-dramas that provide fairly exciting narratives. For example, you may not see scientifically conclusive evidence of a ghost on their Sanford Mill episode, but it’s engaging to see a group of young adults navigate completely blind in a huge abandoned industrial complex that they've never been in before.
“Let’s just say it was a really bad idea,” teased Gowen.
Haunt ME, and the perspectives of its cast, also invite viewers to ponder an interesting, if not unsettling thought experiment: assuming ghosts are real, what if they’re not malevolent, just highly misunderstood?
Gowen believes that there’s some form of existence after death, and souls can get caught wandering on Earth unable to communicate with the living without confusing, hurting, or terrifying them. Imagine you’ve been dead for 50 years, trapped in your old house, but you can only register your presence by flickering lights or scratching the skins of the new, living, occupants.
Wouldn't you be scratching them all the time attempting to make contact?
“I can’t imagine how isolating and painful that must be for spirits,” said Gowen. “They look shadows to us and we look like shadows to them. We could just be haunting each other.
Need a road trip idea? Visit Haunt ME’s index of Maine’s haunted sites, and send in your idea for a Season 5 location here: http://haunt-me.com.