Director: Simon Pearce
Starring: Martin Delaney, Lucy Cudden, Simon Merrells, Alexander Perkins
Judas Ghost is released in the UK from Bulldog Films on April 20th
“We don’t take any shit from the hereafter.”
Five Ghost Finders from the Carnacki Institute have been sent to a village hall to investigate a suspected haunting and film a training video for the Institute at the same time. They’ve been told it’s just a typical haunting, people getting the willies and children making creepy drawings. The group is lead by brash and overconfident Jerry Mackay (Delaney) the team sets up in the empty village hall and goes to work.
All is not what it seems, psychic Anna Gilmore (Cudden) can’t detect anything in the hall, not even traces of the living which it should be rife with. They guess that something very powerful is masking itself but of course all thoughts of leaving are shot down by Mackay who constantly (and in the face of evidence to the contrary) insists that it’s just a typical haunting and everything will be fine. But of course far more is going on than anyone on the team suspected and the Carnacki Institute leaves it’s investigators to their fate. Supposedly the Institute is watching it all go down from somewhere safe and cozy with ample popcorn.
Judas Ghost is a locked room mystery and in an interview with Simon R. Green, author of The Ghost Finders series and scriptwriter of Judas Ghost, he explained that they had a much larger movie in mind. However the film they wanted to make cost too much so he had to go back to the drawing board. He devised Judas Ghost as a stage play. The film has one setting (aside from a few brief flashbacks) and five actors. In such circumstances, and on such a limited budget, a lot rests on the performances. Luckily everyone is up to the task. The acting is topnotch and the film makes good use of the few special effects it can afford and while not particularly scary, there is a sense of mystery and suspense maintained throughout.
The flaws of the film double as its strengths. It’s not really scary and it looks like a cheaper episode of Supernatural. It feels like a television pilot and at one point when the screen went black I fully expected a commercial break. It takes a long time for anything more than a few haunted house standards to happen (a piano plays by itself). Also Jerry Mackay (Delaney) is incredibly irritating, his dialogue consists mostly of varying iterations of “We can handle this”, although he does finally lose it at one point which turns out to be pretty satisfying.
Another minor irritant is cameraman Mark Vega (played by Simon Merrells). He alone seems to know what is happening, or at least a close approximation as he has run into something similar before. He dribbles information only when the plot demands it and it comes off as withholding important information. The ghost of the title doesn’t show up until well toward the end and he is a little anti-climactic. Gloating like a cartoon villain.
Flaws aside it’s a great lesson for film makers on how make good use of a small budget. Show to aspiring filmmakers, older children, and fans of Supernatural. For curious book lovers there are a series of Ghost Finder novels, and if you know any Simon R. Green fans this one is for them.
Kudos for: The Exorcist gag and Shakespeare quote.
Final lesson: Always bring a towel.
Available April 20 from Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Judas-Ghost-DVD-Martin-Delaney/dp/B00U2MTL60/