Ghosthunters (2016)

Don’t follow too close

Writer: Pearry Reginald Teo
Director: Pearry Reginald Teo

Ghosthunters is a strange mishmash of a film. Similarities with the recently rebooted Ghostbusters go beyond the title and since this film comes from The Asylum it’s hard use the word ‘coincidence’. But stylistically Ghosthunters is very different – there
certainly aren’t any laughs.

That’s clear from the first scene, which would be at home in any torture porn movie; two bound women are tormented by a person wearing a full leather coat and plague doctor mask.

We soon learn that the women were the wife and daughter of the main character Henry (Stephen Manley), victims of a serial killer known as the Night Stalker. Henry has been researching ghosts and with the help of Neal (David O’Donnell) has built a machine which can locate and trap them. He decides to use this to free the spirits of his dead wife and daughter by the unusual method of capturing them and turning them into lumps of slimy green ectoplasm. As set-ups go this is unconvincing to say the least.

Henry and Neal arrive at the house along with three other characters, one of whom is a journalist. Her presence is an excuse for a series of big, clumsy infodumps as most of the next twenty minutes or so is spent with various characters explaining things to her.

After that things do improve. The actual spirit detecting kit is a wonderful Heath Robinson affair complete with a superb pair of ghost goggles which resembles an optician’s phoropter. Once the infodumps are over and the ghost activity rises there are some nicely spooky scenes. Teo’s direction isn’t the subtlest but it works well in creating an atmosphere for these.

Later on we start getting flashbacks of some of the other killings for which the Night Stalker was responsible. These are very nasty, but actually work in context rather than just coming over as gratuitous gore.

So Ghosthunters was looking like a mediocre but stylish little movie. The science vs occult idea is always interesting, though done a lot better by (for example) The Dead Room (2015), and the balance between subtle atmosphere and outright gore is also interestingly unusual.

Unfortunately Teo had to throw in a twist. The final act starts with a big reveal that had me slapping my head. It’s one of those that occurs to you very early on and which you keep hoping won’t happen. Not only is it predictable but it’s also nonsensical. Plotwise it turns everything that’s gone before into Swiss cheese. I tried to be fair and even considered a second twist that was hinted at but not made explicit, but that just made things worse. The story simply Does Not Work.

So despite some nice scenes Ghosthunters is ultimately ruined by a ridiculous twist that destroy any suspension of disbelief.