Review: ‘Truth Seekers’ evolves English ghost lore phantasmagorically

“Truth Seekers”

Creator: Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Nat Saunders and James Serafinowicz

Cast: Emma D’Arcy, Nick Frost, Samson Kayo, Malcolm McDowell, Simon Pegg and Susan Wokoma

Network: Amazon Prime


If any nation can happily combine necromancy, modern paranormal sleuthing, and the archetypal Victorian Gothic ghost story into one riveting serial, it most certainly is England.

And who else better to flesh out the tale of “Truth Seekers” than the often-comedic duo of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.

The two reunite to bring us a modern ghost story where Smyle Wi-Fi installer and paranormal fan Gus is reluctantly teamed up with a new colleague, Elton John (Kayo), by his boss Dave (Pegg).

Clearly a nom-de-plume, the latter helps the former unlock some of the mysteries afflicting the area of Southwestern England, chiefly the Isle of Portland.

Frost and Pegg are more known for their wry British humour in such films as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but this time they take a more winding road to get the laughs, and a-ha moments. The themes of family, friends and the afterlife are as pervasive as their ethereal quarry. Additionally, they are on-brand with a subtle style of humour that is only detected by a sense of home-grown intuition. Malcolm McDowell, who plays Frost’s father-in-law, and Susan Wokoma, Elton’s agoraphobic sister, provide most of the laugh-out-loud humour.

This is a straight-up investigation from beginning to end, and it fortuitously connects Gus and Elton with a young woman named Astrid (D’Arcy). She is an unfortunate soul who is being chased by a plague doctor and the burnt-out husk of her mother.

There’s a little bit of everything in this folkloric tale, ranging from brushes with WWII strangeness, to the Beast of Bodmin Moor, to experimentations with canines in the afterlife and a subtle tip of the cap to the Enfield poltergeist. And it’s all worth the eight-episode binge on Amazon Prime.

But most importantly, these side quests all tie into the final faceoff with a necromancer named Dr. Peter Toynbee (Julian Barratt). Gus, who looked up to the modern version of an Aleister Crowley, reconciles with the truth behind his wife’s death (nay murder), and how it ties into the denouement of a villainous occultist’s pursuit of immortality.

Pegg’s Dave plays a vital role, although his character is merely on the sidelines, he is up to the task of late-career Wayne Rooney.

He subs in quietly with his assistant Bjorn to help Gus and his team of Truth Seekers to block Toynbee’s transmission.

The most pleasant vibe from the series is that it’s not over the top. The ghosts in the machine, the terminator eye implants, and the robed chanters have no sense of gross indecency.

It all seems organic, and in the annals of pop culture ghosts, put a kettle on for a warm cup of tea.

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