South East Asia
Back in the USA
Split across 8 episodes, Dark Tourist is an interesting, fascinating and often bizarre look at some of the off-the-beaten-track locales across the globe. Narrated and investigated by New Zealand journalist David Farrier, Dark Tourist is an easy-to-watch, entertaining travel documentary that does a good job mixing educational history with some of the more bizarre happenings around the world, even if it does tend to show more shocking and morbidly curious happenings for the sake of shock at times.
The 8 episodes in this first season explore vastly different areas around the world with each exploring a specific region highlighted in the name of the episode. Whether it be amazing marble monuments in an eerily desolate Turkmenistan city or a traditional voodoo festival in the heart of Africa, Dark Tourist does a great job keeping its content as fresh and unique as it can throughout each episode. David adds a great competency as the narrator too and oftentimes his thoughts reinforce what we ourselves would feel in the situations he winds up in. Despite these unique locations, each episode follows a pretty standard archetype. After a brief introduction to where David is going, the 40 minute long episodes are split into three, broken up by a black and red map to highlight what fascinating or bizarre location he’s travelling to next. From here David explores the location, interviews locals or figureheads involved in whatever he might be investigating before rounding off with a closing statement to summarise what he’s learnt during the episode. It’s a really good technique too and one that maintains a balanced and fair perspective for the most part.
The editing and visual design of the series is good too with hand-drawn animations during the title sequence and red and black maps within the episodes further emphasising the eccentric and unique flavour to the series. At times Dark Tourist does feel a little too bizarre for its own good – relying heavily on shocking and morbidly curious tourist attractions over genuinely fascinating and awe-inspiring locations. Comparing a bomb site with a tropic lake full of radioactive water to a museum just outside Wales is quite the stark contrast and it’s moments like this that sometimes make the series feel like it’s trying a bit too hard to be whimsical and different.
While Dark Tourist doesn’t necessarily offer anything unique or different that hasn’t been explored in more detail or in more humorous ways in other documentaries, this 8 episode travel series does a decent job bringing a different perspective to some of the more bizarre and strange hot-spots around the world. When Dark Tourist travels to these areas and lets the natural beauty or absurdity of the area shine, the series is at its best. When it tries a little too hard to bring shock and morbid curiosity to the episodic content, Dark Tourist suffers for it. While still entertaining in its own right, Dark Tourist isn’t the best travel documentary out there but it’s still worth checking out.
Verdict - 7/10