When Amy Allan says “I see dead people,” she’s not referencing Hollywood, though she’s about to flirt with its border territory.
Appearing in “The Dead Files,” Travel Channel’s new show about what happens when people get wigged out by some freaky shit, as in haunted, and their situation is diagnosed by an empirically bound ex-NY police detective named Steve, and Amy, a physical medium who interprets the situation with her psychic gifts. When I first found that I would interview a psychic, I wondered if I could ask her what I was thinking at a given moment and she could tell me. On the phone, I ask her what type of berry (raspberry) I’m eating at one point. She laughs, “I’m not a telepath.” I find out that these gifts, whatever they are, manifest for a very specific purpose. She is able to go into a place where something bad has happened, and experience, sometimes even feeling the sensations of reliving (e.g. taking a hammer to the head, or choking on poison) the manner in which these people met their end. Amy doesn’t call them ghosts, she calls them spirits, or dead people, “because that’s what they are.”
But not always.
At times, something terrible, like a murder where a guy bludgeons someone to death with a hammer, leaves a spiritual stain, and though the dead person isn’t there and the murderer is still alive, there is still major disturbance in that spot. Ever see “The Grudge,” with the creepy dead girl with a voice you might hear in your blackest nightmares? Apparently that’s for real. Though one of these entities who can physically harm the living, that’s rare, but she says she has witnessed it, and it’s the scariest thing she’s ever seen.
I try to keep a healthy skepticism while also being open to everything, and before speaking to Amy, I wondered if she might have just a little more fruit in her cake than normal, but it’s the details: she’s married, and her husband is a total skeptic–though he admits to not understanding how she gets her information; also her sincere honesty, how she sounds perfectly normal while speaking frankly about demons and angels (though she calls them guides and is careful with how she says things to avoid influencing people’s perception), that make her seem authentic. Nothing she says sounds kooky, and while not diagnosing, and in cases calming down spiritual disturbances, she works as a massage therapist at The Oxford Hotel and Spa, where she says she can see into bodies, “It was kind of disgusting at first. I could see ligaments and tendons [...]” but she says working with the living helps to balance her, perhaps even help her sleep, which she says she doesn’t really do, too much activity, and that ever-present uncertainty that these “dead people” may be able to cross over the physical barrier.
Amy’s friends tell her she doesn’t know what normal is, and I agree, as after speaking with her I feel uneasy with how real these ideas are that I usually keep at a safe distance by being distracted with life. Death is a door that opens for us without exception, and the complexities of what we’re all a part of seem so much more vivid when we believe, know, or even see, that it isn’t all for naught, that life isn’t meaningless horror.
After talking with Amy, I feel waaay more empathy for Haley Joel Osment in “The Sixth Sense,” also…I have a strong urge to call the Oxford Hotel and Spa and make an appointment.
“The Dead Files” airs this Friday (9/23) at 7:00pm MST on The Travel Channel.