In 2002, renowned Ghost Hunter, Carter Simms, was offered $5,000 to conduct a 3-day and 3-nihgt 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 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.
With the success of Ghost Hunters, Syfy’s hit paranormal investigation reality television series, it was only a matter of time until someone utilized its essence for a film. 2007’s Death of a Ghost Hunter did just that, going so far as capitalizing on the title. Unfortunately, the film is not as successful as the show that inspired it. The low budget effort was released on DVD in 2008 to mixed reviews and all but forgotten a week later.
As the story goes, a minister named Joseph Masterson and his wife and two children were mysteriously murdered in their home in 1982. Two decades later, Joseph’s nephew, Seth (Cordon Clark), has inherited the house, in which no one has resided since the horrific incident. Upon seeing what he believes to be the ghost of his cousin, Seth calls on renowned ghost hunter Carter Simms (Patti Tindall) to investigate the property so he can sell it.
Although Carter prefers to work alone, Seth offers her $5,000 only if she allows an investigatory team to document the process. Carter agrees and is joined in the house by video technician Colin Green (Mike Marsh), journalist Yvette Sandoval (Davina Joy) and spiritual analyst Mary Young Mortenson (Lindsay Page). The latter serves as an over-the-top religious zealot that you love to hate. The research methodologies seem fairly accurate, lending the movie some credibility to help overlook the undeveloped characters.
The film plays out as if it’s a reenactment of an actual occurrence, as based on Carter’s journal entries written during the investigation. That’s all well and good, but if the actual events were filmed – there was a videographer on site and cameras set up around the house – why not go the found footage route? It would have been much more interesting and would have beat Paranormal Activity to the punch. Instead, we get a conventionally-produced recounting of the tale with occasional glimpses through the camera’s lens.
The prologue text divulges that the investigation “stands as the single most tragic paranormal inquiry in American history” before revealing that it concluded with the death of Carter. Even though the title essentially states the same thing, this is a baffling choice. It would be one thing if it were based on a real, well-known event, but this is a fabricated back story specifically for the movie, so to spoil the ending before ever introducing the characters in downright foolish.
Director Sean Tretta and his co-writer Mike Marsh can be commended for pulling off a low budget film with only four primary actors and a single location. While the execution serves its purpose, the end result is mediocre at best. The acting is largely dull, the characters are paper thin, the story is predictable and the house has some modern accessories despite supposedly being untouched since the ’80s.
The atmosphere falters with cheesy scenes. Even worse, any enjoyment a viewer may have experienced prior is negated with a lengthy, over-explained flashback that’s tacked on at the end. There are a couple of genuinely creepy moments in the film, bringing to mind the likes of Poltergeist and The Amityville Horror, but many of the scares/suspense fall flat. And that’s an apt critical summation of Death of a Ghost Hunter: it has the potential to be something special, but that potential is never realized.
Death of a Ghost Hunter (2007)