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Ghosthunters (2016) Review

rsz_gh1Ghosthunters (2016) Review

Director: Pearry Reginald Teo

Starring: Francesca Santoro, Stephen Manley, David O’Donnell, Liz Fenning, Crystal Web.

Out now on UK DVD from High Fliers Films

“Ghost DNA.”

After Henry’s wife and daughter are murdered in an abandoned house used by a serial killer, he and his group of ghosthunters go back in to extract their souls. Henry (Stephen Manly) and his friends have been working on a machine to find and preserve ectoplasm. They were testing the machine at the site of the murders when everything went wrong. Now Henry and his cohorts face the angry victims of the serial killer. A serial killer who may not be done.

Well, it sounds okay in theory. And it’s certainly not the worst movie ever. It’s an Asylum film. So that right there should tell you a lot about Ghosthunters. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed. Ghosthunters manages to be a mediocre supernatural thriller. It has some fun special effects and creepy ghosts. The jump scares aren’t terribly effective, they pop up right about where expected, negating their effectiveness.

There is also a delightful amount of techno-babble the likes of which haven’t been heard since Star Trek went off the air. The techno-babble actually makes for a pretty hilarious scene of really terrible exposition about the ghost hunting machine. It’s basically a ghost trap from Ghostbusters. Don’t give it too much thought.

rsz_gh2Aside from the mediocre plot there is also plenty of mediocre characters performed by so-so actors. The good news is that no one is stand-out terrible. The problem is they are also stuck with a pretty ridiculous script. The most weighty role is given to Manly who does pretty good as the grief stricken Henry but could have brought a lot more personality to the role. Especially since one of the major twists hangs on his. David O’Donnell plays Henry’s friend and confidant Neal who built the ghost trapping machine. Neal also brings along his reporter girlfriend Amy played by Francesca Santoro, who is arguably the main character, but nothing in the movie indicates that fact. Then there is computer programmer Jessica played by Liz Fenning. Crystal Web plays the sadly under-utilized psychic Devon. No one has much character development and nothing more is known about the characters at the end of the film as was known in the beginning.

There are a lot of wasted opportunities in Ghosthunters too. Devon brings a knowledge of the occult to the “science” of paranormal investigating, and in a good scene that goes nowhere, she tries to trap the ghosts in the house using salt. The combination of the occult and science would have been a really interesting development. But the script slogs along with paint-by-number predictably.

The best thing about the film are possibly the props. The best prop in the entire movie is a pair of steampunk styled ghost spotting goggles. Second runner-up is a steampunk styled plague doctor mask worn by the killer. Sadly the ghost trapping machine itself is a bland jumble of spare parts that look like they could be anything. The rest of the special effects are okay, but not great. There is some CGI enhancement of the ghosts, but it looks like most of the effects were achieved practically. It’s not a special effect heavy film, probably due to budget constraints, and it manages with what it has. Over all Ghosthunters is pretty skippable.

gh3Kudos for: The organ music.

Lesson Learned: Say ghost DNA often enough and it just sounds silly.

5/10

Ghosthunters (2016) Review

Ghosthunters1Ghosthunters (2016)

Writer/Director: Pearry Reginald Teo

Starring: Francesca Santoro, Stephen Manley and David O’Donnell

Runtime: 90min

Synopsis (from IMDb): “When one of their own loses his wife and daughter at the hands of a serial killer, a team of ghost hunters is determined to capture the spirits of the loved ones so their spirits can finally rest in peace. But as the team goes deeper into the house, the ghosts become more hostile, and the group discovers the true secrets of the house and its murderer.”

Another title from the somewhat infamous production company The Asylum, one might be quick to assume this is another “mockbuster” tie-in to compete with the summer blockbuster Ghostbusters (2016). There is, however, a lot more on offer here than meets the eye, let us get hunting!

The film starts with a conversation between Dr. Henry Tanner (Stephen Manley) and Neal (David O’Donnell), prepping themselves before the enter the scene of the grizzly crimes committed by the Night Stalker serial killer, who dons a rather iconic looking plague doctor mask and is quite menacing to say the least. The rest of the crew arrive and they set up shop upstairs in the dilapidated old house. Henry goes on to explain the kind of research they will be carrying out, hoping to capture the ghosts of his wife and daughter who have been killed by the Night Stalker. Amy (Francesca Santoro), Neal’s girlfriend is a reporter and a sceptic, thinking the whole operation as a farce, yet still intrigued as to what they might find.

ghosthuntersscreenshot1Being decidedly darker and more of a drama than previous The Asylum productions, Ghosthunters is very refreshing in this regard. The performances are great given the relative experience of most of the cast. There is a wide breadth of horror elements too, a mixture of spooky ghosts, jump scares, psychological horror and more. The limited and claustrophobic location never feels boring and there are enough surprises in the old house to keep you on your toes. As the story progresses the sceptic becomes the medium in a bizarre yet entertaining twist of fate, what other secrets are yet to be unearthed?

Produced on a modest budget and a new direction for The Asylum, Ghosthunters is a fantastic example of how low budget doesn’t have to mean low quality. Being unceremoniously slated on IMDb with a measly 3.3/10 user score and a similar score on Rotten Tomatoes, with not even a single user review available is very disappointing and not representative of the final product itself. Not many people may want to invest in the lengthy runtime given the scores it has received. Rest assured I vouch for Ghosthunters, I was entertained from start to finish and remained engaged throughout, with some great twists and turns along the way for good measure. Pearry Teo did a really great job here with what was available.

ghosthuntersscreenshot2Overall, Ghosthunters is a solid paranormal horror, which is not a low budget rip off of its similarly named summer companion Ghostbusters. If you’re a fan of horror and are itching for something new and entertaining I would recommend you give Ghosthunters a watch.

Verdict: Ghosthunters isn’t a Bust

7.5/10