Friday, 4 September 2009

DEATH OF A GHOST HUNTER


I've always been a sucker for haunted house movies. THE STONE TAPE, THE HAUNTING,THE INNOCENTS, THE CHANGELING... golden oldies that have been joined by more recent fare such as THE OTHERS and THE ORPHANAGE. Sad to say, those good old fashioned spookers have always been a bit thin on the ground, perhaps relegated to also-ran status by populist box office hits that go for the jugular rather than subtle chills.
So, the release of a relatively recent film bearing the title DEATH OF A GHOST HUNTER immediately made me sit up and take notice.

Shot in 2007, Sean Tretter's second directorial project appeared on a UK DVD rental site with the minimum of fanfare, and it was available for free streaming as part of my rental package.
The film concerns a renowned ghost hunter named Carter Simms (Patti Tindall)who will be paid $5,000 to investigate a house that once played host to murder and suicide. Simms is contractually obliged to share house space with a cameraman and a reporter, who will attempt to bring balance and accuracy to any manifestations that may occur.
The trio are soon joined by a bible-thumping young woman, who turns out to have a vested interest in the house and its bloody history.

For most of its running time, DEATH OF A GHOST HUNTER does a more than reasonable job of detailing the science of paranormal investigation, with a clutch of believable characters staying well in tune with the script. Taking into account the nine day $10,000 shoot, the end product is a credit to all involved, though some aspects of the production fall a little bit short a little too often.
While some of the ghostly effects certainly convey the necessary chills for this genre, there are a number of instances where the supernatural imagery is anything but scary and this does impact on proceedings.
There's also a key scene early on that may render the finale less-than surprising, although the last 10 minutes are still a powerful experience, even if you got the 'twist' way ahead of time.

With nods to THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE EXORCIST and a cringe-inducing BLAIR WITCH piss take, DEATH OF A GHOST HUNTER is a mostly absorbing low-budget entry in the haunted house stakes, and its 'true story' tag did (I'll admit)compel me to search online for further details.

Tretta's film can be found to view online at http://www.lovefilm.com/welcome/beta.html and has just been released on DVD in the UK for just £2.99. Also available on Netflix.

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