THE GHOST BUSTERS
Chasing ghosts on weekends 101
“Lord Reignac, are you here with us tonight?”. Tschhh Tschhh Tschhh. Few seconds pass. At first, nothing seems to have cut through the white noise of the spirit box. Still, Hénix is absolutely sure of himself: “I’ve heard a man’s voice”. “Thank you Mister, could you confirm that you are here with us? Please, state yes or no.” Tschhh. Tschhh. Tschhh. “Do you need assistance?”, Nat adds. Tschhh Tschhh. No answer this time.
Earlier today, Natasha, 39, and her Brother Ric, 44, pulled over their black car SEAT Ibiza on the parking lot in front of the Reignac Castle, a troglodyte fort carved in a cliff during the 16th century in the center of France. During the week, Natasha is a business developer for a bank, Hénix is a professional musician. Every weekend, they turn into Nat and Hénix, ghost hunting influencers operating under the name “paranormal encounters” counting north of 14,000 followers on Youtube.
Abandoned houses, historic sites, ruins… For more than a year, the duo has been filming its ‘investigations’ in supposedly haunted places to share them with their followers for free. Alike them, around thirty specialized French Youtubers are catching the wave of paranormal’s interest surge. Largely inspired by American shows, they share the same goal: record original footage of “ghosts”, release them and collect the views on their videos.
Spotting ghosts is not easy an easy task, that’s why some con-artist Youtubers resort to eccentric editing techniques to exaggerate and sometimes even fake ghosts sightings. But Hénix insists that it’s not their way of doing things. “Even if nothing happens, we release our investigations. Paranormal is not a show” Hénix defends himself.
The elder brother is the who requested the authorizations to film in the castle for the night. “Most of occurrences will probably happen in the dungeon, this is where the Lord used to rape and torture women.” Hénix explains. “The idea is to see whether his victims remain within the walls of the castle” Nat follows up.
Their outfit is not what you’d expect from ghost hunters. They look straight out of Grease: shiny tidy brushing and sunglasses for her. Leather jacket and slicked back hair for him. The duo quickly blends with the tourists crowd as they’re doing a scout tour of the place. Hénix is ‘into paranormal’ since 1986. Like most ghost hunters, he’s started with spiritism sessions before actively chasing ghosts. Nat decided to join him later, “to reach out to a close relative that passed away”. For her, investigating with her brother was “a no-brainer”, “we have a very strong connection” Nat acknowledges. Both of them are merely here “to make encounters” and “find answers”. “We’ve all had this lingering question: is there an afterlife? Here, we’re trying to find the answer and prove it with our devices” Ric explains.
For our Youtubers, you can’t pretend to be serious about ghost hunting if don’t record and analyze evidences of paranormal activity with tailored devices. Top of the list, there’s the spirit box — a little black box with a speaker that scans radio frequencies on which ghosts could be trying to signal their presence. There’s also an electro-magnetic field detector that could detect waves released by spirits. And finally, cameras: an infrared camera and a digital camera that looks borrowed from the early 2000s. All of their equipment is available for a few hundred euros on specialized e-shops.
The night is falling on the cliff. As the last tourists are leaving the premises, the siblings are sympathizing with the keeper. “It’s not the first time that we get this kind of requests. Last time, there’s a man who spent the whole night sleeping in there!” the keeper says.
They’re ready. Dressed in black and shiny crosses tied around their necks to “avoid any risk of demonic possession”. Our duo is finally ready. Cameras turned on, they push the heavy squeaking entrance door.
The two hunters step in the house. It’s dead silent. All the lights are off: they can “introduce themselves to the spirits”. “Good evening, I’m Hénix”, “Hi, and me, I’m Nat”. They progress slowly with their flash headlight lighting their way before heading to the massive stone staircase. Hénix is filming continuously. Nat’s snapping pictures now and then. Suddenly, she stops. Brutally. “There’s a different feeling here. Can you sense it?”. Silence. She snaps a picture with flash on “in case a spectrum is here”. Nothing.
Here we are. The duo reaches its destination: the dungeon. They’re about to start their first spirit box session of the evening. All in all, the siblings will spend more than an hour roaming through the house to examine the dungeon, the Lord’s bedroom and the torture room. They’re asking questions, hoping to hear an answer coming from the plastic speaker of their spirit box. “Eventually, it’s up to them to decide to show up or not. If they do, it’s for the better. If they don’t, it’s part of the game”, Hénix acknowledges.
Their investigation is coming to an end. It’s late and the Youtubers promised the keeper to be done by 11pm. “Tonight, we’ve heard some voices. But we’ll have to study and analyze the recordings” tells Hénix to his followers, while straight at the camera lens. Nat joins Hénix in the white glow of the light “Voilà everyone, thanks for following us, take care of you and we’ll see you soon” and they finish with their signature goodbye jingle: “Tchusssss!”