Friend of the site and co-host of the excellent Kryptographik Podcast joins us this week with a guest review! Check out Brian’s review of “Death of a Ghost Hunter” below! Like it? Be sure to add him on Twitter!
Death of a Ghost Hunter
Review by Brian Matus
Plot Description from Amazon.com: “In 2002, renowned Ghost Hunter Carter Simms was offered $5000 to conduct a 3-day/3-night paranormal investigation of the infamous Masterson House. Twenty years earlier, Minister Joseph Masterson and his family were brutally murdered inside their home. With the aid of a videographer, a reporter and a spiritual advocate, Carter set out to prove (or disprove) claims that the Masterson House was haunted. What transpired is the most terrifying and tragic paranormal investigation in the history of modern Ghost Hunting.”
Perhaps, and perhaps not.
Written and directed by Sean Tretta, I can’t help feeling that this film had a good premise, but was lacking in its execution. For example, if Death of a Ghost Hunter was presented as a “found footage” film (similar to The Blair Witch Project), it would have lent an immediacy that I feel the film was lacking. Instead, we’re presented with a film “based upon the events described in Carter Simms’ journal,” which gives the film the feel of a re-creation from the TV show ‘Beyond Belief’.
The film starts out fairly promising, depicting the murders of the Masterson family. The film then skips ahead 20 years to the beginning of “renowned Ghost Hunter” Carter Simms’ investigation. Oddly, she looks more like the kid’s mother from Two and a Half Men than she does a “renowned Ghost Hunter.” Maybe I watch too much TV, but I expected someone “renowned” to look old enough and tough enough to have established such a reputation.
We’re told that the owner of the house, Seth Masterson, is a “Los Angeles based television producer,” and that while he refuses to go in the house, he has a cleaning woman dust the house once a month. Otherwise, the house has been preserved as it was 20 years ago (minus the blood, obviously). Due to a recent traumatic experience, the cleaning woman refuses to clean the house any more, and so Seth has hired Carter Simms to investigate.
Carter tells Seth that she prefers to work alone, which should immediately seem odd to anyone who’s seen Ghost Hunters (yeah, more TV). How she juggles audio and video equipment while conducting an investigation is beyond me. Perhaps that’s why she’s “renowned.”
Regardless, Seth insists on hiring a crew to assist her investigation. The following day, a cameraman (Colin), a reporter (Yvette) and a member of the local church’s youth group (Mary Young Mortenson) introduce themselves to Carter (as Seth seems to have split back to L.A.), and all hell breaks loose.
In the meantime, there’s a “Ghost Hunting 101″ segment that will sound familiar to anyone who’s seen Ghost Hunters on the Sci-Fi Channel, followed by some wandering around the house, some weird noises, and a chair that seems to move by itself. The “chaste young church member” (Mary) gives everyone a hard time, especially the “slutty reporter” Yvette. By the second night, the supernatural events get more threatening, and our cast gets increasingly strung out. The following morning, Mary’s agenda is revealed, and she gets into the worst catfight ever filmed before getting thrown out of the house.
Naturally, she comes back with a final revelation, as the film makes its way towards its climax.
I almost feel as if I’m making this film sound better than it is.
While the film generally looks pretty good, the acting is, to be polite, “inconsistent,” as if the actors occasionally hit the wrong notes. What makes things even worse is that the film’s volume levels seem to rise and fall depending upon who’s speaking. I literally sat through the entire film raising and lowering the volume just to follow people’s conversations.
Towards the end of the film, there’s yet another re-creation of the original murders from 20 years ago. This time, we see details that were left out when we saw the murders the first time. This is followed by at least 5 minutes (though it felt longer) before the end credits that are not only unnecessary, but could have driven the point home in 30 seconds.
It’s not the worst film I’ve ever seen, but I can’t really recommend it either.