Looking for your next holiday destination? No problem. If you're tired of sandy beaches, cocktails and sunnier climes, then Dark Tourist is for you. Exploring the most macabre destinations on the planet to spend time in, New Zealand journalist David Farrier takes us on a journey to the most morbid places anybody would want to go to including a real life vampire feeding, a tour of Pablo Escobar's hometown, the remnants of the nuclear explosion in Japan and even a six hour tour where he gets to pretend to be an illegal immigrant trying to cross the border into the US.
Yes, it really is as bonkers as it sounds but to be fair to Farrier it isn't just some weird voyeuristic look at the bizarre, more like he can't quite believe what he is doing either and in that respect he is fairly representative of the viewer at home. In episode one he travels to Columbia, takes the Pablo Escobar tour and hangs out with his number one hitman Popeye. The revelation is that Popeye is apparently a YouTube sensation and despite the fact that he is clearly a psychopath – he murdered over 200 people – he now claims to be reformed and all the way through the conversation even Farrier can't quite get to grips the notion that Popeye is both a mass murderer and a nice guy. You and me both David!
In another episode Farrier explores Japan and heads to some pretty grim places such as Aokigahara, a forest at the bottom of Mount Fuji in Japan which has developed an international reputation as a suicide hotspot which by anybody's standards is a profoundly sad thing and it shows. He also takes in, along with a bus full of tourists, Fukushima, a city-turned-wasteland ravaged by a nuclear disaster in 2011 and still plagued by high levels of radiation. Again, not the cheeriest of destinations but this is Dark Tourist and I don't think it's supposed to be an uplifting holiday guide.
Dark Tourist is definitely interesting, even fascinating at times, but it is also morally ambiguous when the reality of the places he has to visit kicks in. People actually spend money to pretend to be an illegal immigrant, or to witness the barren wasteland that once somebody's home or to follow the footsteps of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and it all becomes a little bit disturbing. Farrier himself is very likeable but I don't think I'll be heading to visit a drug cartel anytime soon. I may just stick to Tenerife!