A review by Robert Long II ©2011
Stars: Phillip Roebuck, Devon Marie Burt, Frederick Cowie, Josh Davidson, Ted Taylor, Jon Hansard
Executive produced by: Chris Cooley
Written and directed by: Eric Espejo
PLOT: Brett Wilson (Phillip Roebuck) conducts paranormal investigations, and has a popular TV show that airs on a cable channel. Ghost hunting is the process of investigating locations said to be haunted by paranormal activity that could indicate the presence of spirits or entities not of this world.
Tragedy strikes Brett. His wife (Katie Foster) passes away; as a result he questions the existence of the afterlife. His show continues to do well but he harbors guilt for not being there when she needed him most. As he reflects on his priorities, he shocks those around him when he decides to retire. The network threatens to sue him if he doesn’t at least provide a series finale. He agrees to take on the finale when he receives a desperate call from Travis Garner (Joe Hansard), who claims Brett’s wife is haunting his home.
Brett and his team of ghost hunters – Jennifer (Devon Marie Burt) and Ritchie (Frederick Cowie) – head out to Garner’s home to debunk his claim. A cynical reporter – David Sherman (Josh Davidson) – has been assigned to cover Wilson’s last show. Upon arriving at the house, a death quickly occurs, and those that remain spend a deadly night in the house of haunts.
Technically the movie is very well made. The cinematography by Kunitaro Ohi is – for the most part – spot on. There are interesting dolly shots and moody lighting. The musical score by James Sale is appropriate and adds a lot to the scenes. Be it that this is a low budget independent film I also must give kudos to the numerous locations that are used – including a hospital, television studio, and sheriff’s office. And there is added production value per the use of ambulances, police cars, and other emergency vehicles.
I like the actors. Each of them is very capable and had instances where they were allowed to shine. Joe Hansard is a standout in the brief time he is on the screen; very convincing as a distraught man haunted by ghosts. I have seen Ted Taylor in several movies, and it is nice to see him playing against type in this one; well done. As to the main cast of Phillip Roebuck, Devon Marie Burt, Frederick Cowie, and Josh Davidson – they universally do well with the characters and the material they are given. There are times that the dialog is flat or uneven which makes it harder for me to identify with them, but overall they were engaging as characters. The standout of the main cast – for me – would be Josh Davidson as the antagonist flask-carrying reporter.
There are some areas that it could have been improved upon. All the performers per se’ are very good in their roles, but there are times that certain things are not pulled off well. The story and script – by Eric Espejo – could probably have used another draft with more polish to it. For instance, the character of Brett Wilson (Phillip Roebuck) is not portrayed as a sympathetic protagonist. We start with him morose and depressed and are not given a glimpse to what he was like before his wife passed on. Was he nicer to people? Was he more cheerful? Was he happy with his success as a ghost hunter on TV? These points – had they been addressed – perhaps in flashbacks – would have painted him as a much more sympathetic character.
The ghost hunt team as a whole did not really convince me that they had done this several times before in the past. I cannot put my finger on it, but when setting up I didn’t get the feeling that this was a well oiled unit that had done this over and over again, and that it was old hat to them by this point. I’ve also watched the movie 2 or 3 times, and I swear there is a scene that takes place in the Sheriff’s office with no lights on. I thought that was odd.
THE FINAL RATING: 6.5/10 Ghosts. Despite any failings the movie has, altogether it is very well done. It packs a lot of atmosphere and does have some genuinely creepy moments. I have to say that I loved the double-twist at the end. I give the filmmakers a lot of credit for pulling it off, and not having it feel like a cheat. GHOSTS DON’T EXIST is definitely worth a rental, and if you are into the ghost horror genre I think you will get your money’s worth if you pick it up. I only wish the DVD had come with some extras; it would have been great to have a filmmaker’s commentary on an indie film of this type.
Click on the image above to go to the official website and purchase this creative indie production!