Let me begin by stating unequivocally that Ghosts of Darkness is one of those genre movies you just must see – I feel it has all the makings of becoming a fan favourite of 2017 if it can get the right distribution. Blending a traditional story, including the perfect spooky house, with witty comedy and some decent gore effects in just the right measures, it’s a difficult film to fault if you are in the mood for some spooky thrills.
The plot follows two paranormal investigators, drawn to a haunted house by a tantalising, if unconventional, invitation – £50,000, but only if they can stay alive for 3 days and prove to the public there is no supernatural activity. The truth, that the house has 2 centuries of murderous history. Suicides, patricide, infanticide the works-(icide). There seems to be something in the house and it’s not picking its victims at random – oh, and none of the inhabitants have ever lasted longer than three days after moving in.
Needless to say, that the newest owner is finding it difficult to move the property on with its current reputation.
Enter paranormal investigators Jack Donovan (Michael Koltes) and Jonathan Blazer (Paul Flannery). Neither have met before, and it’s not long before what starts off as a clash of personalities becomes a joint fight for survival as both get far more than they bargained for. One, an eccentric clairvoyant, the other a sceptic looking to debunk the paranormal with science. Both exceedingly well casted and much of the movie leans on the outstanding acting of the duo. Paul Flannery’s portrayal of the exuberant Blazer has got to be one of the best characters in the genre I’ve seen for ages. Think Jonny Depp in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ investigating ghosts and you will be close! He has the best lines in the films, and delivers them with comic conviction. In contrast Koltes ‘Donovan’ takes a little more time to warm to but comes into his own at the conclusion of a slightly more heartfelt sub-plot. Either way, I haven’t has this much fun with a film for ages!
Of course, neither character would be able to shine if the other areas of the film was not so well accomplished in other aspects. Writer/director David Ryan Keith is on his third genre film, and although this is his first entry in the supernatural chiller sub-genre, he clearly knows what makes a successful one. This movie has got the atmosphere and aesthetics down, the house is creepy, with its long corridors and ominous shadows, exploring the house in the first act is tense and intriguing – complemented by a sound design that has a perfect mix of ambience and jolts. There is no waiting around for the payoff either. This movie has a pace which sees its 80-minute run time flash by; indeed, I would have gladly watched another 80!
To round off the package the ghost design, well the ‘possessed’, look (and sound) amazing. Forget new wave of CGI rendered spooks, this is full on prosthetics and grue – some of the creepers in this feel have the look and feel reminiscent of Raimi’s original deadites, and when the film needs them to be freaky you can be sure that they damn well are.
That said, perhaps I have gotten a little excited there, actually there was some CGI use, sparingly though I might add in my defence, but it does need a mention. Indeed, the only criticism I have of the film is that the overall ‘big badass demon’ who ends up being the main antagonist in the movie, is portrayed solely in CGI – and it doesn’t look good. If the ghosts looked reminiscent of 80s characters, the Demon looks like he shifted forwards a decade and jumped straight out of a PS1 video came cut scene – it is not a flattering look!
That said, overall, this minor niggle is nothing but a very slight blot on what, for me was another wise flawless canvas. I cannot recommend ‘Ghosts of Darkness’ enough for your weekends viewing. It’s a very effective mix of thrills, scares and fun. Rarely seen and very much welcome!