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By midlandsmovies, Apr 8 2019 02:09PM

Midlands Review - Ghosts

Directed by Joey Lever

Digital Heart


"Early 2019 The Ghost Catchers were hired to rig 369 Film Studios with state-of-the-art paranormal technology to find spirits that have been haunting the studio for 30 years.

This is the footage recovered”.

And so opens this new paranormal comedy mockumentary from Leicester filmmaker Joey Lever. With the relatively recent explosion of films based around a similar premise – the Paranormal Activity franchise films and 2011’s Grave Encounters - Lever plays Malone, a ghost who is haunting a local film studio but is followed by a film crew too.

In this unique twist we are introduced not just to Malone, but he shares this haunted space with two other spirits – Flynn (Jak Beasley) and his girlfriend (ghost-friend?) Spryte played by Phoebe Hammond.

The trio have quirky personas and spend their days pranking the owner Jeff, played by real-life studio owner David Hardware. As we are reminded that “ghosts can’t die”, we see Flynn hanging from a noose in one of many comedy japes they play. But they are not all as macabre as that. For example, we are shown how Malone spends an extra ordinate amount of time simply moving mugs and newspapers around to annoy Jeff.

The filmmakers have kept the documentary feel by inserting several interviews and talking-heads sections. We are introduced to Harry from the fictional Ghost Catcher TV series and these help give the short some structure as well as provide fun background information about the characters.

From the Martin Freeman-style direct-to-the-camera “stares” to the David Brent embarrassing smiles and shrugs, there’s a fare chunk of The Office in tone included in Ghosts. However, the supernatural element is clearly influenced by the similarly-styled What We Do in The Shadows. That 2014 film followed a group of vampire friends and the filmmakers have taken the genre and added some of their own spooky situations.

The comedy is understated and despite their morbid predicament, the threesome's lives are often framed by petty arguments and silly squabbles. Whilst their horrible deaths bring them together, the film gets laughs from the mundane minutiae of their lives rather than any spiritual revelations.

Later on an exorcist is hired by Jeff to rid the building of its phantoms and once he arrives, he begins to shriek “may the power of Christ compel you” as they look on incredulously. He leaves with the apparent spirits in a ghost catching unit, but this simply results in the three ghosts laughing as they remain where they are.

Leading up to their biggest prank moment – Malone brings along some white sheets and the trio prepare for some scares. As mild as they are and filmed in bright daylight, the ghosts’ final masterplan is as mundane as their previous efforts. However, despite this everyday quality, they may have taken it too far this time. Leaving us to ask whether Jeff will finally discover his tormentors or head to an entirely different place altogether.

A witty and somewhat improvised script helps sell this short and although the ideas are certainly nothing new, the film does manage to find a unique slant on an established formula. With plenty of gags present, Ghosts is an excellent manifestation of a solid idea with a humorous delivery. And whilst zombie-fans often get the majority of comedy-horror, this mockumentary certainly gives the audience an amusing account of the afterlife.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Nov 21 2016 08:37PM

Ghostbusters (2016) Dir. Paul Feig

Well I come to this film months after the online controversies it generated during, before and after its creation in the hope to take a look at it without the crowds of extreme viewpoints clouding my judgement.

Off the bat I think three things.

1. You cannot criticise this for women being involved. It’s just sexist. Plain and simple.

2. You cannot criticise it for “destroying” your childhood. It plainly just doesn’t go back and change that movie one bit.

3. You can criticise it on any other filmic aspect whether you like it or not.

With that in mind I had to go beyond some of the many negative comments that were brought up, fought over and then dismiss all the noise and focus solely on the film itself.

But the new Ghostbusters was better than I expected. I don’t know if it was low expectations or something else. As a kid I made my own proton pack (and a ghost trap out of a cereal box too) so have fond memories of that film but a recent re-watch didn’t make me feel much more than nostalgia. But it’s laced with childhood memories and this new reboot does not take that away.

Anyways, back to this film. It stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as the Ghostbusters with Chris Hemsworth as their receptionist and has much in common with Ghostbusters version 1: a group of scientists - some sceptical about the paranormal, some adamant they exist - pull together to start a business in New York to catch ghosts. One initial issue is that they don’t actually capture any more than one. Why? I don’t know.

A few twists are thrown in though. The authorities know there are ghosts but simply cover it up whilst there is a lot more focus on the tools of the trade – with McKinnon delivering some much needed off-the-wall quirkiness the rest of the “safe” parts lacked. Something that the film also did well was the pacing and the build-up and a few fan-service cameos were fine but nothing more.

The negatives? Well I have to say that the pratfalls and physical comedy wasn’t up my street. It never has been. However, most of them are in the trailer which got me thinking that the trailer was actually one of the worst I’ve ever seen. The positivity of these strong women playing scientists was completely ignored for slaps, falls, slime and running yet the rest of the movie is hardly like that at all. I’m no fan of McCarthy either (see here) and for me the film longed for an Amy Schumer-type to give it some real bite.

If I was to compare it to the original just once, the realistic palette of grey/brown New York is jettisoned for awful day-glow colour grading with the ghosts looking like they’d been painted with Stabilo Boss highlighter pens. I definitely preferred the more convincing non-CGI versions and the film really lacks any practical effects at all.

So, should you see it? Well, I definitely think everyone should give it a try. If you’re sexist then you should probably give up viewing films as a whole but for the rest of us you *may* be pleasantly surprised. It’s much more comical than it needed to be and it’s never dark/seedy enough to capture New York or the supernatural but at least don’t take the trailer at face value and view the film itself on its own terms, as although FAR from perfect, it could have been a lot worse.


Midlands Movie Mike

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