A lot of travel programs follow a tried and tested formula. There’s a charismatic host. Pleasant and idyllic locations. There are the ingredients you’d typically associate with a fun holiday. But the opposite is true for the new, eight-part Netflix series Dark Tourist – New Zealand’s first original series for the streaming platform.
This program prides itself on visiting places typically associated with suffering, destruction and death. We bring you the five things you need to know about this dark and macabre show.
1. The series is hosted by David Farrier who made the documentary film, Tickled. In one episode he describes himself as a “Cheap Louis Theroux.” In some ways he’s right but given some of the weird and wonderful subject matter he tackles he’d probably be more correct if he likened himself to John Safran.
2. Farrier obviously has an obsession with killers. He meets Charles Manson’s best friend and some strange Jeffrey Dahmer enthusiasts who claim they’re in love with the serial killer because he’s a “Bad boy.” There are even tours of Dallas that recreate President John F Kennedy’s assassination, which are in incredibly poor taste.
3. The presenter’s delivery is very deadpan and detached and this contributes to the uneven proceedings here. In some episodes this actually makes him seem quite cold and callous. But one scene where his presenting style works well is in a freaky, Japanese hotel run by android robots. That’s because Farrier didn’t seem all that out-of-place there.
4. In Indonesia Farrier says that he hasn’t seen many dead people. But despite this he agrees to help with the cleaning of a mummified corpse. He also gives the deceased woman a financial offering (even though he had to borrow this from his interviewee).
5. Farrier likes to stir the pot. In a place subject to a dictatorial regime (Turkmenistan) he tries to get his interviewees to speak out against the government but they’re quick to shut down this line of questioning. In Mexico, Farrier takes part in an illegal border-crossing into the U.S. despite the fact he admits that he could just leave the country like everyone else does (i.e. legally).
Dark Tourist: Season One is now available to stream via Netflix