It’s a N.D.M; a near death machine, there have been expirements that have taken you too the brink… but never beyond!
After taking a bit of a break from reviewing movies to watch some of the NHL Playoffs (Go Flames!) and the end of the football season (as in actual football, not what the Americans try and claim as football), I was hoping to return with a positive review. I’ve had a bit of luck with random choices recently with a lot of positive reviews coming out, so hopefully the recent run would have continued.
Anyway, on Friday I was in my local CEX store and was browsing the DVDs and I came across a film called “The Ghostmaker”. The title interested me enough to read the synopsis and I must admit that it was one of the most unique ideas I’ve seen in some time, so I decided to make the £2.50 investment.
I’m not going to lie though, even though it interested me, my expectations were low because horror films these days tend to be very predictable. At the time of writing I have just got home from seeing Unfriended at the cinema (which is fairly decent by the way, I’d recommend it), and I was thinking on the 3 mile walk home about horror films and the best ones are the ones that don’t treat the viewers like idiots, which is something that is all too common these days. You may have noticed in my recent Top 20 films that there were very few horror films, so that should sum up my feelings on the genre.
Kyle (Eisenberg) works as a removals man to pay for his drug habit, a habit that has caused him major financial issues. One day he is taking a woman’s dead husband’s belongings and he stumbles across an old fashioned coffin. Despite his promise to the woman, Kyle doesn’t destroy the coffin and instead takes it home to sell. Kyle’s disabled roommate, Sutton (Holland), soon sees the coffin and after researching it, it turns out that it has the ability to send people to the afterlife for a few minutes.
Kyle and Sutton, along with Platt (Grey), take turns in going to the afterlife, allowing them to wander around as a ghost. Sutton briefly regains control of this legs after a turn in the coffin and thus decides to use the coffin to stalk Kyle’s girlfriend (Fenning). Kyle on the other hand uses it to steal money for his habit and settle his debts to the local drug dealers (Arcangeli and Damnit), although his relationship soon turns sour with them after he witnesses them willingly give a drug addict a mix of drugs that create a poison, killing the addict.
Meanwhile, Sutton has used the coffin so often that he now has the use of his legs back permanently and whilst in his ghostly state, he has developed the ability to touch objects and transport willingly. He uses his newly discovered abilities to increase his stalking and taking it to a very dangerous level.
So does the run of favourable reviews continue?
Relatively yes, whilst this isn’t a brilliant film by any stretch of the imagination, it is still enough to keep you watching without getting bored. Now, I’m not going to sit here and claim that this is something that you will ever watch more than once because it certainly isn’t. Even though I relatively enjoyed it and will give a mostly positive review following this paragraph, I have no intention of ever watching this film again.
Now, I’m going to start off with my main negative of this film and for once it’s not the acting, the story telling or anything of a similar nature, it’s simply that they made such horribly obvious mistakes that would have been easy to correct. For example, when Sutton first goes into the machine they say “he’s not breathing” after about 20 seconds, even though you can clearly see that Holland is still breathing. The strange thing about this is that it’s shot from a perspective of the top of the head downwards. Given that Holland is sporting what could best be described as a 70s throw back hairstyle in this film, it would have been easy to replace him with a dummy in this scene as you can’t see his face at any point.
The film is full of little mistakes like that, but the one that stood out for me was right at the end of the film. Now, you should know just from that that I am about to talk about the ending, so the rest of this paragraph will be spent spoiling the ending, so if you don’t want it spoiling then skip to the next paragraph. For those of you that are still here, the film ends with Sutton and Kyle fighting on a roof. Sutton falls off of the roof and falls to his death, Kyle desperately tries to save him before the next cut shows him clearly standing up and putting his hands on his head…..and then the next shot is him still over the side stretching his hand out trying to save Sutton. It’s such a basic error that is very hard to ignore.
Anyway, onto a more positive feel and this film in many ways reminds me of another film about ghosts, Peter Jackson’s “The Fighteners”. Whilst I definitely preferred “The Frighteners” and it did come exceptionally close to making it into my Top 20 that I recently published, and the reason that I liken it, other than the subject matter, is that is has a similar presentation style of those that are in the afterlife.
Holland does a brilliant job as the increasingly unsettling Sutton. They nailed the look of the character in the sense that with his choice of clothing and hairstyle means that he is unlikely to attract many women, so it is plausible that he would become obsessed with the only woman who he sees on a regular basis and the more the film goes on, the creepier he gets. The stand out scene of which is when he is following her through the female changing rooms at the gym (whilst in his ghost form obviously) and he is walking past women that are naked and showering themselves, but his focus is clearly on this girl. This stands out for me because it shows just how determined that the character of Sutton is to attain his goal.
If Sutton was simply after any girl then he could have easily diverted his attention to any of the numerous naked women that are in the scene, but he doesn’t take his eyes off of his target. In many ways his stalking of Kyle’s girlfriend, and his overuse of the coffin, is a perfect reflection of Kyle’s drug use. They perfectly contrast each other, with Kyle soon going off of the drugs, whilst at the same time Sutton is getting his addiction started.
One thing I would have liked to have seen is both characters using the coffin for a variety of experiments. By that I mean that Sutton only ever uses it for one thing, and Kyle’s are only really for drug and stealing related ventures. Neither really ventures outside of those and whilst what they do is realistic, if this film was slightly longer, or used it’s 90 minute run time a bit better, then it could have explored the much darker nature of being invisible. For example, in the film “Hollow Man” you see a character who is perfectly sane and reasonable, taking full advantage of his invisibility to do a variety of doing things before he eventually turns insane.
Whilst it still has some flaws, mainly with continuity, The Ghostmaker isn’t actually that bad. It presents what is a fairly unique idea and gives is a look that will be very familiar to fans of The Frighteners.
With a decent enough antagonist, decent development and an engaging storyline, it was refreshing to see something where the effort has been made to not fall into the stereotypes of the horror genre. Whilst I never plan on watching it again and have already sold the DVD back to CEX for the princely sum of 40 pence, I would recommend it if you ever get the chance to watch it.