Hey gang, Valkor here. After the string of bad films that have passed my way recently, save for a few that were pretty decent, I was all but ready to give this next film, The Ghostmaker on DVD, the TOV Stamp of Disapproval just from the name alone. Imagine my surprise when I sat through it – twice, and loved every minute of it. Minor spoilers ahead my friend.
The Ghostmaker is supposedly based on true events and the whole thing starts with footage taken from the event that the film is based on. The film, for the most part, centers on Kyle (Aaron Dean Eisenberg), a college student who works part-time as a house cleaner to make extra cash. His services are requested by an older woman, whose basement he has to clean. During his clean up he finds an old coffin that fascinates him, mainly because it looks and could probably fetch a lot of money. However the old woman recognizes this and demands he gets rid of the coffin. But Kyle's need for fast cash overrides that demand; he takes it home and throws it up on an eBay-esque auction site. But upon closer inspection he discovers there's gears and whatnot beneath the cushion. Not sure what it is, he calls upon his wheelchair bound friend Sutton (J. Walter Holland) to take a look. The two examine the coffin, discovering a key and where it goes. Turns out the thing plays like a large music box, but what is it exactly is still unclear.
Getting nowhere, Kyle confides in his friend Platt (Jared Grey), who gives him a book detailing exactly what the coffin is – a ghost machine. Essentially you lie in it and have an out of body experience. Sutton and Kyle test out this theory on Sutton's goldfish. After starting up the box, the fish appears to die, but soon after the music stops it perks back up again. So you know what happens next?
If you say the three guys will test it on themselves, you'd be correct. And the box works as expected. However after each use the guys begin to change… well mostly Kyle and Sutton. Kyle is a crystal meth addict and uses the box to his advantage to get over on his dealer. While Sutton has a fascination for Kyle's girlfriend Julie (Liz Fenning), using his time to "get closer" to her, he also learns that the device somehow is repairing his legs. However the worst effect from using the box comes in the form of a ghostly being with clockwork gear for an eye that haunts the three men. Problems get worse as Sutton's lust begins to grow and Kyle's dicking around with the dealers meets with fatal results, plus there's Death following them around awaiting his turn... to strike.
The original title for the film was called "Box of Shadows" and given the context of the film, the original title appears to make more sense, which not only implies what lurks within the coffin, but also within the hearts of the two men who use it.
Cheesy title aside, The Ghostmaker is a pretty bad ass; not only is it done in the same vein as such films as Flatliners and Final Destination but it's also quite capable of holding its own against their awesomeness. The Ghostmaker is my type of film as it doesn't waste too much time with backstory or bog you down with too many special effect; it simply tells its story, driving you headlong into the drama of these three dudes finding this creepy box and the affect that it has on them. Boom! I'm sold! The plot is straightforward with no crazy twists, but still it's an intense 90 minute ride that has a crazy ending that cleans everything up nicely. The special effects are minimal with no gore, but what's there works great such as the bluish glow on the guys, with emphasis on the eyes when their having their out of body experience. And the effects of the Death creature that stalks them, again emphasis on the eyes, because damn that's creepy ESPECIALLY at the end. I mean for a low budget film that's pretty impressive. The acting, for the most part, works with stand out going to Holland as wheelchair-bound Sutton who is also a creepy stalker to boot. In the end The Ghostmaker is a solid horror, while not overly scaring is still entertains.
I think the film could have shaved some minutes off of its run time, maybe cutting back on all of Platt's explanations. Did we really need to know about the cranial bit? It kinda takes away the mysticism of the box. Plus that's time that could have been used to show off a bit more of this film's version of Death. Pic below very related.
The Ghostmaker is available now and don't let the silly title dissuade you from checking it out because you're getting a pretty decent horror/thriller that's definitely worth checking out. And out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving The Ghostmaker a solid 4.