WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Lately I’ve come up against a bit of a brick wall so far as my reviews are concerned. I’ve watched so many movies in the past month, but they’ve all ended up being direly boring and I couldn’t think of a single way to write reviews for any of them (although the good Lord knows I’ve tried). It might just be that my standards have dropped, or I was just so desperate to write about something that my mind is making it all up, but I actually found this to be a decent and passable horror movie. It’s certainly not original, it doesn’t try to shake anything up and it doesn’t try to elicit any kind of emotional response from the audience, but as a standard haunted house story it works in the sense that what it does, it does well. I wouldn’t recommend rushing out to get your hands on a copy, but if it happens to come on TV sometime and you haven’t anything better lined up, give it watch. You may end up being mildly entertained.
In a move that may briefly leave you confused and mistakenly thinking that you’re watching Grave Encounters, the movie opens with us following the crew of a ghost hunting show. The show’s a little old school and is made up primarily of stock footage that they’ve green-screened their rather smarmy and pony-tailed host in front of. Since nobody appreciates a classic anymore, the ratings for the show have started to dip tremendously, and the producers are threatening to axe the show unless something is done. Enter the man who knows buzzwords! In his opinion the show needs to take on some elements from reality TV shows (no it doesn’t – nothing EVER needs to take points from reality shows. EVER.) and place the producer in the haunted houses and record his overly dramatic responses. So essentially they’re going to make it into Ghost Adventures.
The powers behind the show have found the absolutely perfect house! It’s set in a lovely neighbourhood, plenty of room for a family, fresh coat of paint, slave lodgings, the works! It also has a terrible history of people going missing as soon as they set foot inside of it, and the neighbours keep complaining about disembodied voices pleading for mercy, but it’s nothing that a new lamp and a mild exorcism won’t take care of. When the crew arrives there’s nobody there to open up for them; thankfully the movie’s a bit racist and has equipped its only black character with the skills to pick locks and a desire to break into white folks’ homes. It’s all a bit strange inside though: why is there a fully stocked fridge in a house that’s been abandoned since before the 1950s? Why is it so spotlessly clean? Why is the psychic they brought with them bleeding out of her eyes? Nobody seems particularly concerned with these questions, so it’s on with the show they go.
It becomes quite apparent quite quickly that this isn’t one of those fake haunted houses – there is some genuine malevolent shit going on in there. Unfortunately the crew is headed up by the biggest asshole of a producer that a film has ever dared to create, so despite the fact that people are disappearing into the walls he absolutely forbids anyone to abandon their posts. As it turns out it isn’t that the house has evil spirits in it – the house itself is the evil spirit. To survive it literally eats its victims in order to maintain itself (gorgeous wallpaper and a meticulously clean crystal chandelier come at a cost, you know), and it isn’t interested in letting any of its new meals out. It’ll be up to the bleeding-eye psychic, a black dude and a melted corpse to solve the case if there’s any hope of them living to see the sun rise again.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Haunted houses are known to spin people right round (baby, right round, like a record baby right round, round round).
- Haunted houses have no right to go around giving themselves fresh coats of paint.
- When the ratings for your TV show are down, it calls for life threatening situations to revitalise them.
- It’s supernaturally dangerous when a haunted house’s pleasure to pain ratios are too high.
- The colour of the ectoplasm you find indicates the level of malevolence you are dealing with.
- It’s very important to routinely check your psychic for hairballs to ensure optimum health.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
As a fun little fact before I dive into the review, this movie was originally meant to be a part of the Urban Legend franchise. Under the working title Urban Legends: Goldfield Murders, this was meant to follow on from Urban Legends: Bloody Mary before Sony bought back the rights to the franchise. It’s just as well really; while Bloody Mary at least tried to cling in there, amateur doesn’t begin to describe this movie. Maybe it’s because the guys behind it chose to go with a less universally known urban legend (I’d never heard of Goldfield or its supposed ghosts until I watched this movie. Some useful information can be found by clicking here), but all this movie really boils down to is 88 minutes of every clichéd ghost trick in the b-movie book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a laugh a minute to watch, but when Kellan Lutz is your biggest draw card you really aren’t giving the audience much to work with.
After some thumping techno beats from the production companies responsible for this little cheese fest we’re thrown into a car full of horribly clichéd college students. Julie’s your typical ghost-hunting psychology major who’s deadly serious and in touch with the voices from the spirit realm. To balance out her intense blandness she chose Mike to be her jackass boyfriend. Mike’s just your standard scuzball college character who keeps pulling pranks and flirting with other females. In this case said female is Keri, the whiny spoiled girl bedecked in pink and who can’t understand why this ghost hunt can’t be a kick-ass party. She’s here with Dean, who there really isn’t much to say about since he just kinda hovers in the background and grunts disapprovingly when she flirts back with Mike. The group’s fifth wheel is Chad, the intelligent, sensitive beef cake who tries to look out for Julie and protect her from Mike’s general douchebaggery.
Julie and co. land up staying in the haunted hotel when it turns out that the motel she booked them into doesn’t exist. How this happened is never explained, so we just plow on with the story. Julie’s trying to make contact with Elizabeth, a prostitute who lived in the Goldfield hotel during the town’s gold rush. Elizabeth was supposedly murdered by the hotel’s owner and her 2-week-old child dumped down a mine shaft under the building. Julie wants to confirm the specter’s existence to see why she’s trapped and unable to move on to the other side. I never knew that ghost psychology was such a big subject in American universities, but you learn something new every day. How the group struggles for nearly an hour of the movie’s runtime to find Elizabeth is baffling since you can hear her whining ‘where’s my baby?’ in the background every five minutes, but who am I to question the director’s vision?
Suddenly, without apparent cause and only 20 minutes of movie left to go, Elizabeth decides to go balls to the wall and haunt the crap out of these kids. It starts out with some innocent possession to give Julie some flashbacks of what happened to her, but not long after the possessions lead to Mike and Keri making the beast with two backs on a dusty couch. Not content with a supernatural orgasm, Elizabeth decides that the next step is to kill all of the kids as quickly and brutally as possible, all supposedly in the name of finding her baby. How this ties in with the baby is another of the movie’s great unanswered questions, but I didn’t feel like dwelling on it. Julie has some mysterious connection to the old hotel and to Elizabeth’s ghost, and she’s the only one that can end the bygone hooker’s reign of transcendental terror. The question, however, is whether or not Elizabeth is the only ghost in the hotel and whether putting her to rest will really solve all of Julie’s problems.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Girl-on-girl action is cheaper than trying to get a man involved.
- The sound of the car engine exploding doesn’t usually herald good news.
- Bartenders in ghost towns don’t serve up fancy cocktails.
- It’s rude to speak ill of the slutty dead.
- One woman’s brutal torture and murder is another woman’s cheesy, torch-lit ghost story.
- A man must be very well endowed if he can have sex with you through his jeans and yours.
- It’s very inconvenient when your boyfriend’s penis accidentally slips inside your best friend.
- Some guys won’t screw dead chicks; even douchebags have standards.
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