David Farrier’s Netflix series Dark Tourist has debuted globally over the weekend to mixed reviews.
The Kiwi’s eight-part series sees him travelling to some of the most dangerous/morbid tourist spots, such as former nuclear accident sites in Kazakhstan and Japan, tours about JFK’s assassination and Pablo Escobar, a voodoo festival and a haunted house.
Nick Schager was among those who lauded the show. Writing for The Daily Beast, he described Dark Tourist as the work of a “cheery, good-natured, curious individual drawn to the ugliest side of human nature, and it’s that contrast which gives the series its potent energy”.
“Over the course of each 40-minute instalment, Farrier gets himself into situations both strange and perilous, which is all the more captivating because he comes across as a fundamentally jovial sort of wide-eyed explorer.”
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Comparing it to the late Anthony Bourdain’s series No Reservations, Roger Ebert.com‘s Brian Tallerico wrote that while it might not be up to the latter’s standards yet, “the best parts of it reflect that curiosity about life outside the bubble, and this is not just a culinary bubble but a safety one”.
That was sentiment shared by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Dan Fienberg, who believed that while the series wasn’t “always focused or consistent, it’s got ample strangeness and droll laughs, and every once in a while it packs an unexpected emotional punch”.
Among those less-impressed were Indiewire‘s Steve Greene, who wrote that while, “there are plenty of questions to be had about many of the things Dark Tourist wants to capture. It just seems like this show never asks the right ones”.
Meanwhile, Paste magazine’s Amy Glynn thought it was a rare case of a “triumph of substance over style”.
“He [Farrier] has a flat-affect deadpan delivery style that is faintly reminiscent of a Flight of the Conchords character..In the moments when he gets discernibly emotionally involved, the show has some sparkle. In his more deadpan units, it can be slightly lank.”
The Washington Post‘s Marc Silver was less ambivalent, describing Dark Tourist as, “The top show on my DO NOT WATCH list this summer”.
“Is there not an ethics editor at Netflix who could have suggested, ‘It’s always going to be too soon for an irreverent look at serial killing?’,” he wrote of the episode where Farrier travels with a woman who is obsessed with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and “discusses his murders as if they were works of art”.
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