When a young female video editor loses her boyfriend in a car crash, she finds solace in watching video of him taken the night before he died. When he starts to communicate with her through that video, she must decide if he has broken through the barrier between this world and the next, or has she slipped off into madness.
Written by: James Dean Schulte, Jack Snyder, Srikant Chellappa
Directed by: Jack Snyder
Starring: Elisabeth Rohm, Stacey Dash, Waylon Payne, Matthew Del Negro, and Roma Maffia
Documentary filmmaker Jennifer is not having a good week. In addition to being “mentally unstable” and on medication while in therapy to try and stop the recurring visions of her dead sister that stems from a car crash killing her entire family when she was a child, now her boyfriend dies under mysterious circumstances. She really begins to question her frail and fleeting sanity when said dead boyfriend starts communicating with her through a videotape recording he made for her the morning of his death. Is she losing her mind, or was it muuuurrrrrrrder???
Ever watch a movie where you knew absolutely nothing about it going in, and once the opening credits roll and you recognize some of the names of performers you’ve loved in other shows it gets you really pumped up to watch it and see how things unfold? But yet once you realize how things are going to unfold and you start to get bored, you keep watching anyway just because you love those actors, and just in case your original assumption about how things were going to unfold was wrong, you want to see things through to the end no matter what? Well, that was my viewing of GHOST IMAGE.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a slow-burn buildup situation when it comes to ghost stories…hell, I’ve even come to expect it through the years. Most ghost stories, in this announcer’s humble opinion, especially classics like the original 1980 version of THE FOG, are best told when they unravel slowly. After all, they can’t all be in-your-face nonstop asskickers right from the get-go like, say, THE FRIGHTENERS. But when the slow buildup leads to no new revelations or twists that neither myself nor The Scooby Gang hadn’t already figured out 20 minutes in, well, that’s when I start to get a little detached and pissed off.
Elisabeth Rohm (ANGEL, LAW & ORDER) is just as beautiful as she was 10 years ago when she was fighting side by side with the vampire with a soul. But here, for me, it feels as though she was either restrained by the material or just going through the motions…most likely the former. Gone from her was the passionate fire I’ve seen her throw into other roles…it was just basically cry, yell, act crazy, or all of the above at once. Roma Maffia (NIP/TUCK, PROFILER) is also grossly underused and wasted as an angry bitch of a skeptical detective who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. The gorgeous and talented Stacey Dash (CLUELESS) is also on hand, but something feels off about her performance as well.
Director/co-writer Snyder shot this flick slickly enough, and there are a few creepy moments – the bloodied little girl in visions being the standout – so the guy does have a lot of potential. But unfortunately, even the “boo” scares here fall flat because we’ve been led up to already see them coming from a mile away.
Perhaps I’ve misled you with my review though, just as I was originally misled by the title; as this isn’t really what I personally would classify as anything really resembling a true horror movie, as the “ghost” in GHOST IMAGE is not there very often, and seems to me to have just been added to the plot almost as an afterthought to give the movie a “ghostly” feel. To me, it feels more like a light thriller/whodunit mystery with slight supernatural elements to it. You know, like something the Lifetime Channel for Women would independently produce then run on their channel relentlessly for months in a row.
I will say this about GHOST IMAGE though – just because it wasn’t for me and I didn’t care for it, doesn’t mean that this is a bad movie. Hell, I’ve sat through movies in every genre this year that I liked much less (and some that I downright loathed) churned out by the Hollyweird machine (yes, I’m talking to you, WOLVERINE and FRIDAY THE 13th remake). But anytime an indie group comes along and works hard to make a feature (or short), whether I like it or not, I try to show it at least a little love. There is an audience for a movie like this, and it will make its way to that audience. So, Ladies & Gentlemen, if you are a horror fan and your significant other is not, with a PG-13 rating and very little blood, this might be just the compromise at the local video store that you’re looking for as a way to ease them ever so gently into our beloved genre