Missing his late wife Emily, Gus Roberts (Nick Frost) throws himself into his twin passions: internet installation and ghost-hunting. These collide when a routine job sees a series of strange incidents coalesce into something much more sinister.
Let’s make one thing clear. If you’re gagging for your next fix of Simon Pegg–Nick Frost chemistry (and frankly, who isn’t?), Truth Seekers isn’t it. The Cornetto compadres are mostly kept apart in this likeable eight-parter, Frost spearheading lead duties and Pegg taking a supporting if key role. But in many ways, co-writing with Nat Saunders and James Serafinowicz, Pegg and Frost’s fingerprints are all over this supernatural-comedy mash-up that rubs genre-movie scenarios up against a very British sensibility — when was the last time a Blumhouse flick mentioned prawn cocktail crisps, a Happy Eater and The Chase?
Frost is Gus Roberts, a broadband installation engineer for communications empire Smyle who doubles as an amateur paranormal investigator running a piddling YouTube channel as ‘The Truth Seeker’ and dreaming of making the pages of supernatural mag ‘The White Sheet’ (not to be confused with neo-Nazi periodical ‘The White Sheets’). After his boss Dave (Pegg) pairs him with Elton (Samson Kayo), a greenhorn with a long list of previous jobs who just wants a normal gig, the newly minted partnership is thrown into escapades with spooky hospitals, dead dogs, Britain’s third-most haunted hotel (“Room 237. It’s a twin”), malign washing machines, soul transference, books made out of flesh and blood, the Beast Of Bodmin Moor and weird events at the Coventry Collectible Cosplay Convention (CovColCosCon). Not all of it works — a possessed-doll plot falls short — but the storytelling is refreshingly expansive. Episodes often open in surprising ways, from World War II to 17th-century heretics to kids playing GoldenEye on the N64, and there is ambition to spin a broader narrative within a spook-of-the-week format.
Unlike most comedy horror, Truth Seekers doesn’t skimp on the scares.
Frost and Kayo (Famalam) make for a winning pairing. Around this twosome are Emma D’Arcy as the mysterious Astrid, who jumps into Gus’ van (HMS Dark Side) and becomes The Truth Seeker, Malcolm McDowell on irascible form as Gus’ dad, and Susan Wokoma as Elton’s agoraphobic sister who hosts online make-up tutorials around John Carpenter’s They Live. Meanwhile, Pegg’s Dave is locked in Smyle HQ, alongside sweary assistant Bjorn (Mike Beckingham), with a mystery of his own to deal with.
If the characters (nerdy amateur ghost-busters, Julian Barratt’s flamboyant supernatural author-guru) and tropes are hardly fresh, filching as much from Most Haunted as Sam Raimi, the creative team clearly love this stuff, the affection coursing through every frame, be it dialogue references to Close Encounters or a hat-tip to a cameo in a sci-fi remake. Unlike most comedy horror, Truth Seekers doesn’t skimp on the scares — burning faces! Malevolent entities! Punctured eyeballs — and director Jim Field Smith (The Wrong Mans, Criminal) finds a tone that doesn’t dilute the frights or the funny. The end result doesn’t really break new ground, but is a fun, funny recasting of Mulder and Scully with ramshackle Englishmen.
A horror-humour hybrid that feels familiar, but Truth Seekers wins out on affable leads, some sharp gags and a profound love for the genre it’s parodying.