Friday, January 16, 2015

Death of a Ghost Hunter

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Even though the ghost hunter lived a rich, fascinating life, we're just going to focus on the death.

Death of a Ghost Hunter – 0 out of 5

One thing I love more than a great horror film that actually scares the crap out of me is a really bad horror film that makes me laugh.  I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled upon Death of a Ghost Hunter—most likely Netflix recommended it to me (and I recommend that Netflix cuts a check because I once again dropped their name…someday they’ll pay me).  Whatever the reason for finding this film, I’m glad I found it because it is all kinds of bad…and that made it hilarious to watch.

More horror films need people just standing and staring off into the distance in
the middle of the day.

Years after a grisly murder/suicide took place in an assuming home, the current owner decides to enlist the help of ghost hunter Carter Simms (Patti Tindall) and have her investigate the home for proof of a haunting.  Simms, normally used to working alone, is surprised to find the owner has also enlisted the help of a friend/videographer (Mike Marsh) and a journalist (Davina Joy).  The entire group, however, is shocked to suddenly find themselves greeted by a member of the local church (Lindsay Page) who is around to defend the good name of the mother that is accused of killing her entire family and, subsequently, causing the home's haunting.  The investigation quickly starts to pay off as Simms finds cold spots and the cameras capture spectral images.  Ultimately, however, none of the crew is ready to find out the horrifying truth of the home’s past.

The Live Strong bracelet to the cop's character.

Death of a Ghost Hunter is low budget…really, really, really low budget.  Like so low budget that films made by high school students and uploaded to YouTube look like big budget masterpieces.  Death of a Ghost Hunter’s budget is so low that it makes every college student’s final assignment for the semester look like it was produced by a collection of major studios and Warren Buffett.  However, having little money for a film doesn’t necessarily make it good or bad.  A film can have a credit card with an unlimited spending limit and still church out generic bull-poo or a film can have a shoe-string budget that is barely larger than the final amount of feeding 10 people at Taco Bell and still toss out something special and entertaining.  Sadly, DoaGH doesn’t throw out magic…it farts out something far, far less.
This is really the only fart scare this film was able to squeeze out...which is
why they made it the movie's poster, I guess.

The story isn’t really anything special.  It looks really no different than other films investigating hauntings and the cause of the hauntings is unnervingly cliché.  However, I knew exactly what I was getting into with this film but this movie actually could have been unique.  The film has an element to its story where the journalist asks Simms about getting proof of an afterlife and how that is pretty much the white whale of the ghost hunter’s life.  Simms explains that everyone eventually learns the truth and this kinda/sorta comes into play at the end but in a very lazy, just sorta thrown out there way.  There was no impact or profound punch in the face when this element comes back into play.  The problem with this is the fact this film is way, way too painfully predictable.

For example, I quickly guess that this object was a crucifix and a holy symbol
of the Christian religion.  Too easy, movie.  Too easy.
DoaGH really wants to think of itself as a shocker film that delivers a twist ending but the problem is the film is way too obvious with the direction it is going.  A certain character that is introduced to the film has an important role with the family that is haunting the team and the end reveal is treated as a “A-HA!” moment but the moment ends up being a “Yeah, I already knew this was coming” moment due to the plot being less than subtle with its clues.  Hell, the plot pretty much explains it to you the second the character makes their appearance.
This picture is in no way a spoiler.  In absolutely no way.

This desire to have a twist ending plays at odds with the rest of the film because it is so worried about making this lackluster “shock” ending that the rest of the story, mainly the fate of ghost hunter Simms that is given away in the title, takes a backseat.  This forces the story to cram in all the horror (well, as horror as this film gets), murder, and character conflict with Simms into the last Act of the film.  This makes the film feel like it has no idea what it wants to do with itself or the direction it wants its story to travel.  Additionally, this ends up making the film have no freakin’ clue on when to end.  By my count, this movie had three endings and none of them were satisfying in any way.  We have to get the “shocker” part, Simms' conclusion (and the whole point of the story until the writers decided to change that midway through the script), and the fate of the house…which is somehow explained to be one of the most haunted places in the world that is so strong in evil that no religious denomination has been able to cleanse it.  Which, in and of itself, is pretty laughable.  Places with far darker pasts are somehow being beaten in the haunting game by a suburban home that had only a handful of deaths?  I understand the concept of aiming for the stars but this film was overselling itself bad.

"'s called 'Two Girls, One Cup.'  It must have something to do with this

The problems this film has doesn’t stop at just the story, pretty much every aspect of this film is failing at what it should accomplish.  The edit is really the only thing in this film that is horrifying.  Scenes will go on far, far too long to the point of tedium and the point that you just no longer care about what is happening.  Additionally, shots will suddenly insert themselves into a scene before cutting away back to the first shot.  For example, we’ll have a medium shot of a few players and suddenly, for a brief time period (usually less than a second), a close up or another shot of another character will suddenly pop up and disappear as the edit goes back to the medium shot.  It’s very disorienting and an obvious sign of a complete lack of experience with editing.  There's no rhyme or reason to these chaotic chops and it creates a progression that has no natural beat.  Along with the obvious filters thrown in for some shots and sequences, it easily made me realize this whole film was edited on a cheap, off-the-shelf editing program that was, most likely, run by someone with very little editing experience.  I don’t know this for a fact, mind you, but the final product is all but spelling this potential reality out.

That is quite an effect...I swear, I am riveted by this film's use of cheap editing

Then there is the camera work.  I don’t know if the film was trying to be a “found footage” film or was the camera operators just unable to hold the camera still for a single second?
Not kidding here, this scene is just the ghost hunter standing around for about a
minute and a half.  I'm assuming she was trying to find the tension and chills
that somehow escaped set.

Night-vision doesn't not make a movie scarier...
you need the actual scares to go with it.
Finally, this film has some truly awful acting.  Bad acting is almost a given on low budget films because the production can’t afford the good actors (there is a reason they make more money than what I’m worth as a human being) and why the director often casts themselves, family members, friends, or the pizza delivery guy who just so happen to wonder on set with what passes for the Kraft Food Services lunch.  Usually when I watch a low budget film, I am forgiving of the bad acting because I realize they couldn’t afford better (and sometimes you can find a really good actor hidden among the rougher edges of the acting pool) but this one had no saving graces.  I don’t know if it was the fact that the journalist actress couldn’t deliver a single believable line or the fact that almost 90% of the lines begin with the actors saying “Um” or the painfully bad oversell they did with all non-verbal reactions but all the actors were really wooden and wholly unbelievable. least she made turning the lights on convincing.

I usually try to find something good in almost everything I review but the only thing I can think of with Death of a Ghost Hunter is that the film could have held a decent story if it actually went with the story the title promised and didn’t try and shoe-horn in a lame faux-twist ending and, in doing so, the film might have worked.  If the film feathered out there characters and realize the story needed to be about Simms investigating the haunting, her fate might have meant something and the story could probably have been interesting and had the potential to have some scares but, as it is with its awful acting, dismal story, and nails-on-a-chalkboard style acting, the film is a horror film without the scares and a film without any reason to not hit the stop button on your DVD player and absolutely no reason to not put you into a deep slumber.

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